A BJP leader has offered to arrange loudspeakers to play the Hanuman Chalisa in public places. His help to a cause of rival MNS shows the party’s desperation to revive its fortunes in the state.
NEW DELHI – MNS leader Raj Thackeray’s innovative idea to launch a campaign against azaan, the Islamic call to prayer, triggered a veritable storm in Maharashtra. His strategy to counter the azaan with Hanuman Chalisa has become an instant hit with his ideological cousins in the BJP. Going by the intensity with which the saffron fraternity is pursuing the divisive move, a no holds barred war of attrition is in the air.
A BJP leader in Maharashtra has come forward to arrange loudspeakers to play the Hanuman Chalisa in public places. His offer of help to a cause of a rival political entity is indicative of the saffron party’s inclination to mend fences with any party which is ready to fan a fractious campaign against Islam and Muslims.
“Anyone who needs a loudspeaker to install it in a temple can ask us for free! All Hindus should have one voice! Jai Shri Ram! Har Har Mahadev!” tweeted Mohit Kamboj, a billionaire bullion trader, one of the richest BJP leaders.
The BJP and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have joined hands to intensify a campaign for ban on loudspeakers playing the Azaan from mosques, hence the offer from the BJP leader to bear the cost of loudspeakers.
MNS leaders have fanned out in several parts of Maharashtra to play the Hanuman Chalisa from loudspeakers after a call-to-arms by Raj Thackeray at a rally in Mumbai over the weekend on the occasion of the Marathi New Year festival Gudi Padwa. They are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the success of the scheme of the party supremo for the revival of the party.
The move is timed ahead of the elections for India’s richest municipal body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or BMC, is no coincidence. In fact, the MNS chief knew that the controversy may help his party at the hustings. The BJP has its own stake to join the Raj bandwagon. It is seeing in Thackeray’s move an opportunity to get even with the Shiv Sena which is ruling Maharashtra in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress and thereby avenge its loss in the assembly elections.
The Shiv Sena has a history of changing its position on the issue of azaan. Bal Thackeray, founder of the Shiv Sena, was among the votaries of banning the loudspeakers outside mosques. However, the party, under his son Udhav Thackerey, had to soften its hard-line Hindutva stance after forming the coalition in 2019.
Raj Thackeray, who broke away from the party in 2005 after a rift with Bal Thackeray’s son and now Maharashtra Chief Minister, has maintained the hard-line position. Now that the civic polls are round the corner the rebel Sena leader has raised the issue to embarrass his bête noir.
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil of the NCP took exception to the latest provocations coming from the MNS. He said the statements are aimed at dividing society.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut too hit out at the BJP and MNS, saying, “Raj Thackeray was talking about taking down the loudspeakers installed in mosques yesterday. First, see in which all BJP ruled states Azaan has been stopped, loudspeakers removed from mosques… This is Maharashtra, where law of the land is followed.”