INDIA. Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari (80), who has a string of controversies to his credit ever since he took over as the Governor in September 2019, kicked up yet another row with his remarks about Mumbai’s status as a financial capital of the country.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the local square named after the late Shantidevi Champalal Kothari at Andheri in North West Mumbai on Friday, Koshyari said, “If Gujarati and Rajasthani people go away from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money would be left. Then who will refer to Mumbai as a financial capital?”
BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane, Bharti Lovekar, and Independent MP Navneet Rana, who were present on the dais, applauded the governor’s speech without protesting through their speeches. Later, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that BJP disagrees with Governor’s statement.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde distanced himself from the controversy, saying that no one should forget the contribution of the Marathi people to the development of Maharashtra.
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet that Koshyari is sitting on the chair only because he faithfully obeys the command of “We Two.” His comment was an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said that Koshyari had insulted the sons-of-soil and he should apologize. He accused Koshyari of dividing Hindus living peacefully in Mumbai and Thane.
The time has come to think if Koshyari should be sent home or to jail. He must have seen beautiful caves, forts of Shivaji, etc. Now it is also time to show him the Kolhapuri shoe since it is also the glory of Maharashtra. One can interpret this the way one wants.
Journalist Hemant Desai reminded us about the contribution of philanthropists like Jagannath alias Nana Shankar Shet, who, during the British regime, had set up several institutions, including Elphinstone College, Grant Medical College, J J School of Arts, Bombay Steam Navigation Company, and had taken the initiative to set up the Mumbai (then Mumbai)-Thane rail link
The political workers from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress, and the Shiv Sena staged protest demonstrations across the state condemning Koshyari’s remarks.
A saga of controversies
It started with Koshyari officiating the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis (BJP) and Ajit Pawar (NCP) as the CM and the DCM, respectively, early in the morning on November 23, 2019. That government lasted for three days, and subsequently, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was formed after the matter reached the Supreme Court.
The Governor wrote a letter to the then CM Uddhav Thackeray asking why the places of worship, shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could not be opened and whether he had turned “secular”. Thackeray reminded him that the word “secular” is in the Constitution, and he, too was sworn as per the Constitution as the Governor. NCP chief Sharad Pawar wrote a letter to PM Modi, objecting to the language used by Koshyari in his letter to the CM.
In November, the MVA Government recommended 12 names to be nominated as the state Legislative Council members. Koshyari kept his approval pending for over one-and-a-half years, despite various reminders and even a Bombay High Court suggestion.
The MVA Government denied Koshyari permission to use a state government VVIP aircraft to travel to Mussoorie (Dehradun, Uttarakhand) for a function. The CMO said that the Raj Bhavan secretariat had not sought permission before Koshyari proceeded to board the flight at Mumbai airport.
The MVA government passed the Public Universities Act, Amendment Bill, curtailing the powers of the Governor in appointing the university Vice-Chancellors. The Governor, in his capacity as a Chancellor of state universities, makes appointments of vice-chancellors based on the recommendations of a committee.
At a function in Aurangabad, Koshyari said, “Many maharajas and chakravartis (emperors) were born on this land. But, who would have remembered Chandragupta had there not been Chanakya? Who would have asked about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had there not been Samarth (Ramdas)”. The leaders disputed this, saying Samarth Ramdas was Shivaji’s spiritual Guru, while Dadoji Konddeo was his political Guru.
During the state Budget proceedings, Koshyari stopped joint address to both the houses of the state legislature, within five minutes on the ground that the BJP members were sloganeering against arrested NCP leader Nawab Malik. He abruptly left the Vidhan Bhavan, Mumbai.
Days later, during the inauguration of a statue of Savitribai Phule in Pune, he said, “Savitribai was married off when she was ten years old…and her husband (Jyotiba) was 13 years old. Now imagine, what would the boy and girl have been doing after marriage.”
After the backlash on Saturday, Koshyari said his remarks were “misconstrued” and the political parties should not create controversies. “The Marathi people have immensely contributed to the growth of Maharashtra and I am proud to be associated with this land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” he added.
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