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Raj Thackeray praises Yogi for action on loudspeakers, says Maharashtra only has ‘bhogis’

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief congratulated UP CM for removing loudspeakers from religious places, 'specially masjids'. He had earlier given Maharashtra govt 3 May deadline for similar action.

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who sparked off a political controversy over the use of loudspeakers atop mosques in Maharashtra last month, praised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Thursday, for removing loudspeakers from places of worship, “especially mosques”.

Tweeting his statement, Thackeray said, “I wholeheartedly congratulate and stand grateful to the Yogi government for having removed the loudspeakers from religious places, specially the masjids.”

In a veiled taunt at the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra — an alliance of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, led by his cousin and Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray — the MNS president also said, “Unfortunately in Maharashtra we don’t have any ‘yogis,’ what we have are ‘bhogis’ (hedonists). Here’s hoping and praying good sense prevails.”

Earlier this month, Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath in a meeting to review law and order said that loudspeakers at religious places should not inconvenience others. The state home department accordingly issued instructions, and officials have been going to temples and mosques with decibel meters in hand, either asking religious places to lower the volume of loudspeakers or remove them altogether, if unauthorised.

Also read: Congress MLAs ‘upset’ with own ministers within MVA, raise issue at meeting with Sonia Gandhi

The ‘aggressive Hindutva’ stand

Raj Thackeray’s praise for the action in Uttar Pradesh comes less than a week before his 3 May deadline to the state government to act on loudspeakers in mosques. He had first raised the issue in his rally on the occasion of Gudhi Padwa at the beginning of April, when he said MNS workers will play the Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques if the state government does not remove loudspeakers atop mosques.

The MNS chief is expected to address a large rally at Aurangabad on 1 May.

The MVA government had called an all-party meeting Monday, to discuss the issue of loudspeakers at religious places and decide a policy on the same. While Raj Thackeray did not personally attend the meeting, he sent his representatives from the MNS. The BJP, however, boycotted the meeting altogether. After the meeting, the MVA government decided to request the Centre to formulate guidelines on the use of loudspeakers, a stand that the MNS has criticised.

The remarks also come at a time when the MMS has been trying to occupy the Shiv Sena’s erstwhile ‘aggressive Hindutva’ space — Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray was the first to give political mileage to the issue of loudspeakers atop mosques, in the 1990s.

Thackeray’s praise for CM Adityanath also comes amid increasing closeness between the MNS and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of a slew of civic polls in major cities of Maharashtra, expected later this year.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: ‘Softened’ under Uddhav, why Shiv Sena is going back to its original aggressive roots


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