The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday slammed the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government after home minister Anil Deshmukh said the state intelligence department will probe allegations that some celebrities were pressurised recently to issue tweets in connection with the ongoing farmers' protest.
In a stinging attack, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis termed the move as "disgusting and highly deplorable" and said the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi should feel ashamed while using the word "probe" for Bharat Ratna awardees.
He also said that it seems necessary to probe the "mental state" of those who demanded the investigation and those who ordered it.
"Has this MVA Govt lost all its senses? MVA should feel ashamed while using the word 'probe' for BharatRatnas! Actually, now it seems necessary to probe the mental state & stability of the ones who made such demand & of people who ordered probe against our BharatRatnas!" Fadnavis tweeted.
Many celebrities including cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar rallied around the central government on social media using hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda following tweets by Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg backing farmers who are protesting near Delhi border.
Tendulkar and Mangeshkar are recipients of Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.
In an apparent swipe at the Shiv Sena which heads the MVA government, Fadnavis, a former chief minister, asked, "Where is your Marathi Pride now? Where is your Maharashtra Dharma? We will never find such 'ratnas' (gems) in entire Nation who order probe against BharatRatnas who always stand strong in one voice for our Nation!"
Earlier in the day, home minister Deshmukh said the intelligence department in Maharashtra will probe whether some celebrities were allegedly pressurised recently to issue tweets in connection with the farmers' protest after American pop star Rihanna and others talked about the stir on social media.
Deshmukh, a senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, made these remarks after the Congress sought investigation into the BJP's alleged connection to the tweets posted by celebrities and whether they were "arm-twisted" to issue such tweets.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP is one of the ruling constituents with the Congress in the Sena-led government.
Hitting back at Fadnavis, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant accused the BJP of deliberately trying to twist the issue.
He said the Congress demaned the "probe of the BJP (connection to the tweets)", and not of celebrities.
"Why BJP is keeping mum on why tweets of Akshay Kumar and Saina Nehwal are matching with each other? Why Suniel Shetty tags his tweet to a BJP office bearer? Why BJP is scared of probe?" Sawant tweeted.
Sawant further questioned why the drafts of most of the tweets are identical and have the same word "amicable" mentioned in them.
He also claimed that there is a "great possibility" that some celebrities were "arm-twisted" by the BJP into issuing the tweets rallying around the Central government.
"Those need to be given protection. Those who have opined on their own their opinion must be respected," he added.
He alleged that the BJP was capable of pressurising celebrities.
"....it is the duty of MVA govt to provide atmosphere where every individual can exercise their right of freedom of speech without any pressure. Even if pressure is from Modi govt," Sawant added.