Uddhav Thackeray threatened a protest if Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was not removed. (File)
Uddhav Thackeray today demanded Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s immediate recall, describing him as a “parcel sent via Amazon to Maharashtra” in an escalating row over comments on Shivaji. The former Chief Minister threatened a cross-party protest if Mr Koshyari was not removed.
“This governor who is a parcel sent via Amazon to Maharashtra by central government, if they don’t take him back within two to five days, a statewide protest or bandh will be organized,” Mr Thackeray told reporters.
“We would request the central government to take away the sample that you sent here. If required put him in old age home, we don’t need him in the state.”
Governor Koshyari’s comments on Maratha icon Chhatrapati Shivaji have triggered anger across the political spectrum, with leaders of the ruling Eknath Shinde Sena and its ally BJP, too, speaking up.
The Governor made the comments at a function to honour Union Minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
“Earlier, when you were asked who your icon is, the answers would be Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi. In Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here. While Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is icon of the olden days, now there are BR Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari,” Mr Koshyari had said last Saturday.
Mr Gadkari later said: “Shivaji Maharaj is our god…We revere him even more than our parents,” Mr Gadkari said.
In a trenchant attack on the Governor, Mr Thackeray said he belongs to an old-age home and his words could by no means be construed as a slip of tongue.
“The President elects the Governor and the governor should be unbiased, this is what we all feel. But now, the agenda of the central government is being spread by the Governor and that’s why his statement should be taken with all seriousness. I have stopped calling him Governor,” he said.
“The central government decides who will be the Governor. Don’t mind my words but people who won’t be even allowed in old age homes are made governor now.”
Mr Thackeray also spoke about the last time he slammed the Governor, over his remarks that Mumbai would not be the financial capital without Gujaratis and Rajasthanis.
“A few months ago when we met here, the governor insulted Mumbai and Thane people. That time I said that we need to show him the Kolhapuri chappal. Now the governor has insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. We should know who is behind this,” Mr Thackerays said.
“If the governor isn’t removed in the next three-four days, we will wait for three-four days, if nothing happens, everyone who loves the state, must come together and show them what happens if someone insults us. I would appeal to people from all parties to come together. In the next few days, I will meet like-minded people. If all parties come together, I believe we should do something statewide, nothing violent,” he said.
Mr Thackeray also questioned what he called the “silence” of the state government, led by his rival Eknath Shinde, and the BJP, on the Governor’s comments.
“Those who insult Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj shouldn’t tell us about Savarkar issue. Even at that time, we opposed Rahul Gandhi. But those who were protesting against Savarkar are silent now. Why is that?” he asked.
Mr Thackeray had, earlier this week, criticized Rahul Gandhi for saying that Hindu ideologue Veer Savarkar had sought mercy from the British while in jail during the freedom movement.