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‘Greet each other by saying Jai Baliraja’ — Maharashtra Congress tells leaders, party workers

Congress state president Nana Patole tweeted saying farmers are the pride of the world and going forward all party workers & leaders should greet each other with the new slogan.

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Mumbai: Two days after Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar asked government officials to say “Vande Mataram” instead of “hello” while receiving phone calls in offices, the state Congress Tuesday asked all party workers and leaders to greet one another by saying “Jai Baliraja” (hail farmer).

Congress state president Nana Patole wrote on his Twitter handle that farmers are the pride of the world and hence, going forward, all party workers and leaders should greet each other by saying “Jai Baliraja”.

“National Anthem – Vande Mataram is our pride, but Baliraja is the pride of the world, so henceforth Congress leaders and workers in the state should say ‘Jai Baliraja’ while meeting each other and interacting with the people,” he wrote.

Mungantiwar had Sunday said that the country was celebrating the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (75th anniversary of Independence) and all government officials of the state will have to say “Vande Mataram” instead of “hello” while receiving phone calls in offices till 26 January next year.

He had said a formal government order will be out by 18 August. The cultural affairs minister also said it was necessary to abandon the foreign word “hello”, while adding that “vande mataram” was not just a word but a feeling for every Indian.

Facing flak over the directive, Mungantiwar Tuesday clarified that it was ‘not mandatory’ for government officials to say “Vande Mataram”. Anything equivalent to “Vande Mataram” can be used, he added, and questioned if the opposition has an issue in using nationalist words.

‘Say whatever you want’

Both Congress and the NCP had slammed Mungantiwar’s initial statement.

NCP leader Jitendra Awhad came out strongly against this directive. In a video released to the media, Awhad said, “It is an individual’s right to say hello, namaskar or any other form of greeting. Why is this a compulsion at all? Just let us know if we don’t say Vande Mataram, what is the jail term.”

Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, while speaking to the media ahead of the assembly session Tuesday, said there was no objection to saying “Vande Mataram” but why should it be mandatory. Instead, the government should talk about employment, inflation and other pressing issues.”

On Congress’s new suggestion, Pawar said, “Say whatever you want, just don’t hit or abuse each other.”

Also read: India’s ‘Warren Buffett’ & the man with the Midas touch — who was Rakesh Jhunjhunwala


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