Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing shock over the kind of language used by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over reopening places of worship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his letter to Modi, the Rajya Sabha MP, whose party is a key ally in the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, said he was pained by the erosion of standards of conduct by the high Constitutional office of the Honourable Governor.
In the letter to the chief minister on reopening of temples, Koshyari had asked, "Have you suddenly turned secular, the term you hated?"
Pawar said the Prime Minister had given very appropriate slogan of do gaj ki doori to curb the spread of COVID-19 and added the Maharashtra government is also planning a campaign to make people aware of the importance of social distancing.
The former Union minister referred to the huge crowds some temples in the state like that of Lord Vitthal in Pandhapur, Siddhivinayak in Mumbai, Sai Baba in Shirdi and others, witness on normal days.
In such places, it is almost impossible to maintain safe distance between people. Keeping this in view, the government of Maharashtra had decided to stagger the decision regarding opening up of places of worship, Pawar said.
The NCP patriarch said he agreed the Governor can have independent views and opinion on the sensitive issue and appreciated the latters prerogative to convey his views to the chief minister.
However, I am shocked and surprised to see the letter of the Governor released to the media and the kind of language used in the letter, Pawar said.
The veteran politician said separately on Twitter that the kind of language used in the letter does not behove well for a person who holds a constitutional position.
The NCP president said he is sure the prime minister, too, would have noticed the intemperate language used in the Governor's letter.
Pawar said the word secular is part of the Preamble of the Constitution and it shields all religions.
Hence, the Chair of the Chief Minister must uphold such tenets of the Constitution, he said.
Unfortunately, Hon. Governors letter to the Chief Minister invokes the connotation as if written to the leader of a political party.
'I firmly believe that in a democracy, free exchange of views between the Hon. Governor and the Hon. Chief Minister must take place.
'However, the tone and tenor used must always be in keeping with the stature of the constitutional post occupied by the individuals,' Pawar said.
The veteran leader said that looking at the turn of events, the chief minister was left with no option but to release his reply to the Governor in the press.
Pawar said he fully endorsed the chief ministers decision on this issue.
I have not discussed this matter either with the Hon. Governor nor with the Hon. Chief Minister. However, I felt that I must share my pain with you and the public at the erosion of standards of conduct by the high Constitutional office of the Hon. Governor, Pawar told Modi.
Pawar said he enclosed with his epistle to Modi a copy of Koshyari's letter.
The NCP president also mentioned in his own communication to Modi two quotes from Koshyari's letter to Thackeray.
You have a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as the chief minister.
'You had visited Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi. Wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening (of) the places of worship time and again or have you suddenly turned secular yourselves, the term you hated?' said Koshyari to Thackeray, according to Pawar's letter.