The Shiv Sena on Thursday said Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari should be recalled if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah wish to preserve the "prestige" of Raj Bhavan.
An editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana launched a stinging attack on Koshyari (78) who recently wrote to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on reopening places of worship and asked if the Sena leader had "suddenly turned secular."
The editorial said the Bharatiya Janata Party has been "exposed" on this issue. Using the governor's office to attack the state government has proved costly for the opposition party in Maharashtra, it added.
Restaurants have opened with strict COVID-19 safety protocol, but reopening temples will see crowding, it said.
If the BJP wants temples to reopen, then there should be a national policy, it said. Several important temples in the country are closed, it added.
The editorial justified the chief minister's response to Koshyari's letter. "Even the gods must be ringing the temple bells in happiness," it said.
"If the sound of ringing bells has reached Modi and Shah, then they will recall the Governor to preserve the prestige of Raj Bhavan," the editorial said.
Meanwhile, state minister Jitendra Awhad has asked if the governor would write a similar letter to Goa CM Pramod Sawant.
Koshyari is also the governor of Goa.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Awhad in a tweet on Wednesday said Koshyari is the governor of Goa, where there is a BJP government.
"There (in Goa) also temples are shut. Will the governor show his love for temples and write a letter to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant?" he asked in the tweet.
Koshyari and Thackeray are locked in a bitter war of words after the former pushed for reopening of places of worship in the state closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and asked the latter whether he has suddenly turned secular.
Thackeray responded to Koshyari's letter saying he will consider the request but asserted he does not need the governor's certificate for "my Hindutva" even as BJP workers held protests outside temples in various cities in the state demanding reopening of places of worship.
Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar also waded into the row between the two constitutional functionaries, and wrote to Modi expressing shock over the "intemperate language" used in the governor's missive to the chief minister.
The spat erupted after Koshyari wrote a letter to Thackeray about representations received by his office demanding reopening of places of religious worship, shut since March-end in view of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown.
In his letter on Monday, Koshyari told Thackeray it is "ironical that while on one hand the state government permitted opening of bars, restaurants and beaches, our gods and goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown."
Responding to the letter, Thackeray on Tuesday wrote to the governor, saying the state government will consider his request to reopen these places.
The chief minister said a decision on reopening places of worship, a demand being vociferously made by the opposition BJP, will be taken after careful consideration of the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, which tops among states in the number of cases and deaths.
In his letter, whose tone and contents evoked criticism from ruling allies the Congress and the NCP as well, Koshyari had mentioned that he has received three representations from delegations demanding that places of religious worship be reopened.
In response, Thackeray pointed out the 'coincidence' that all the three letters Koshyari mentioned were from BJP office-bearers and supporters.