Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has once again locked horns with Governor B.S. Koshyari, saying the latter is backing “anti-government persons” by demanding a special session to discuss women’s issues in Maharashtra and that this is not in line with the system of parliamentary democracy.
The latest controversy was triggered by the brutal ‘rape and murder’ of a 32-year-old woman in Sakinaka, a neighbourhood in the Andheri area of Mumbai earlier this month.
In a four-page response Monday to Koshyari’s letter expressing concern over the safety of women in Maharashtra, CM Thackeray pointed out recent sexual assault cases in BJP-ruled states as well as in Delhi, where law and order falls under the jurisdiction of the BJP-ruled Union government.
Terming women’s safety “a national issue”, Thackeray asked Koshyari to request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold a special four-day session on the topic, instead.
“To find solutions to issues of oppression of women, the governor should request PM Modi and Home Minister Shah to hold a special four-day session of the parliament. The Sakinaka incident too can be discussed in the same session,” the CM observed in his letter.
The CM’s letter mentions that Koshyari had written to Thackeray’s office requesting a special two-day session of the assembly to discuss women’s safety in Maharashtra after several women’s groups met the governor on the issue following the rape.
“The government is doing its work. So, your suggestion to call for a special session of the assembly can spark off new arguments. At a time when anti-government persons have been asking for a special assembly session, the honourable governor too speaking in the same tune and making the same demand is not in line with the system of parliamentary democracy,” Thackeray said in his letter.
“…After the Sakinaka incident, as governor, you expressed concerns over the oppression of women. We have the same concerns. This issue is not limited to just Sakinaka, but pertains to the whole country. Distressed women from across the country are looking at you with a lot of hope,” Thackeray further said.
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‘Delhi defamed as rape capital, law and order lies with Centre’
Thackeray has highlighted incidents in Delhi as well as in BJP-ruled states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat.
“In the last few years, there has been a surprising increase in incidents of women harassment in Delhi. Delhi has been defamed globally as a rape capital. It is not necessary to make a special mention of the fact that Delhi’s law and order is a central subject,” Thackeray said in his letter to Koshyari.
The CM’s letter also drew attention to a recent case in Bihar, where an MP was accused of rape charges by a party worker — without naming the party or the MP (The case is about an LJP MP). An FIR, in this case, was registered after three months, he pointed out.
“You should only compare the swift police action in the tragic incident in Maharashtra as against what happened in the BJP-ruled state,” Thackeray told Koshyari in the letter.
In Uttar Pradesh, Thackeray spoke about the Hathras and Unnao cases as well as the murder of a former national-level Kho Kho player in Bijnor earlier this month.
“The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) says such incidents are on the rise in Uttar Pradesh. But, the BJP unit there doesn’t seem to have called for a special session to discuss this,” Thackeray said.
Taking a direct dig at Koshyari, Thackeray in his letter also said that crimes against women have surged by 150 per cent in the “devbhoomi” of Uttarakhand — the Governor’s home-state, of which he has also been the chief minister. Koshyari was the second chief minister of Uttarakhand between October 2001 and March 2002.
The Maharashtra CM also drew a comparison with Gujarat, saying, “We have an emotional bond with Maharashtra’s twin state of Gujarat. But, are women really safe in this Gujarat model? As per a report by the Gujarat police, every day 14 women have to suffer rape and molestation.”
CM Thackeray also said when the BJP was in power in Jammu & Kashmir, it did not hold any special session or any serious discussion on the issue of oppression of women among Kashmiri pandits.
Constant tiffs between Koshyari and Thackeray
Ever since he took charge as CM of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, Thackeray has had constant clashes with the governor.
Governor Koshyari, a former BJP functionary and a staunch Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supporter, first locked horns with Thackeray in April 2020 when he sat on the state cabinet’s recommendation to appoint Thackeray to the state legislative council.
According to norms, the CM has to be a member of either of the two Houses of the state legislature within six months of taking oath. Koshyari did not respond to two requests to appoint him, after which CM Thackeray requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and was elected unopposed.
In October last year, Koshyari and Thackeray had an acerbic correspondence over the issue of re-opening temples in Maharashtra that were shut due to the pandemic — a demand that was been repeatedly made by the BJP. In his letter to Thackeray then, Koshyari questioned if the CM had suddenly turned “secular”, while Thackeray retorted saying his Hindutva doesn’t need the Governor’s certificate.
Again in February this year, the governor had to deboard a government plane while on his way to Mussoorie and look for the next available commercial carrier as he did not have the required permission from the state government to take the government flight. The Raj Bhavan said the chief minister’s office did not grant permission to the governor despite being informed well in advance about the trip, while the chief minister’s office said the Raj Bhavan office did not take care of its responsibilities.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)
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