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HomeIndiaCalling one ex-CM 'lone monkey', DNA test for another — Governor Koshyari...

Calling one ex-CM ‘lone monkey’, DNA test for another — Governor Koshyari not new to controversies

Maharashtra governor's latest faux pas, the ‘Gujarati-Rajasthani’ remark for which he has apologised, left even his own party without a defence.

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New Delhi: Forced to tender an apology for his ‘Gujarati-Rajasthani’ remark, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has ruffled the feathers of opponents and allies alike with his latest faux pas.

Koshyari is no stranger to controversy — he once called Congress leader and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat a “lone monkey” and even asked another ex-Congress chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna, to “prove” that he is the son of his father.

Dubbed a “BJP puppet” by the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the octogenarian has courted a series of controversies ever since he was made the governor in September 2019.

During a public event in Mumbai Friday, Koshyari said: “Sometimes I tell people in Maharashtra that if Gujarati and Rajasthani people are removed from here, then you will be left with no money. You call Mumbai the financial capital, but if these people of both these states are not here, then it won’t be called financial capital (sic).”

Such was the backlash that even Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis said they don’t agree with Koshyari’s statement.

Hailed by officials who have worked with him as a “strong personality” and a “simple man” who follows the “RSS ways of living”, Koshyari has made controversial remarks about personalities closely associated with Marathi pride — social reformers Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

In March, Koshyari had claimed there would be no Shivaji without his guru Samarth Ramdas. “Many maharajas and chakravartis (emperors) were born in this land. But, who would have asked about Chandragupta had there not been Chanakya? Who would have asked about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had there not been Samarth (Ramdas),” he said at a programme in Aurangabad.

The statement was not received well. From Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule to Congress state chief Nana Patole and Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut to Shivaji’s descendant and BJP MP Udayanraje Bhosale, Maharashtra politicians had taken strong exception to Koshyari’s remark.

The same month, Koshiyari again drew criticism for allegedly mocking Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule for getting married at a young age. “Savitribai was married off when she was 10-year-old, and her husband (Jyotirao) was 13-year-old. Now imagine, what would the boy and girl have been doing after marriage? What would they have been thinking?” Koshiyari had said.

In October 2020, Koshiyari had questioned then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to continue with the closure of temples by asking if he had suddenly “turned secular”. The Shiv Sena chief had shot back, saying that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from him.


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More volatile in Uttarakhand 

Back in Uttarakhand, Koshyari was the second chief minister of his home state from October 2001 to May 2002. He then went on to serve as the leader of opposition from 2002 to 2007.

In 2012, Koshyari purportedly said at a programme in Dehradun that Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna might need to take a DNA test to prove he is the son of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna.

Popularly known as ‘Bhagat da’, the Sangh veteran also served as the national vice-president of the BJP as well as president of the party’s Uttarakhand unit.

Koshyari had called Harish Rawat aEkluwaa Vaanar’ (lone monkey) in 2019 to claim that he doesn’t allow anyone else to stay in the Congress. “Lord Ram had so many monkeys in his army, but here Rawat is a lone monkey. All his monkeys have joined us. He threw out all good Congressmen, now his boat will not stay afloat till long,” he had said at a rally in Nainital in 2019.

Koshyari had then topped up his ‘vanaar’ comment saying that his Congress rival should be sent to a monkey sterilisation centre when the Lok Sabha election is over.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

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