Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray on Sunday reminded Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to bring down all loudspeakers atop mosques in the state reiterating his May 3 deadline while terming the issue a social one and not religious. The MNS chief made remarks during a mega rally in Aurangabad to mark Maharashtra Day. "It's now or never.... All loudspeakers must be removed after May 3. After (Ramzan) Eid.... From May 4, I will not listen to anybody. All Hindus will blare out Hanuman Chalisa outside mosques at double volume," Raj thundered, at a well-attended rally in the tourist centre of Aurangabad.
- Taking the demand on a bigger scale, he urged that loudspeakers must be taken off from all religious places all over the country, even from temples, but only after they are removed from the mosques.
- Raj further warned that "if the government fails to heed his ultimatum by May 3", then he would not be responsible for the consequences, adding that he was neither interested nor keen to have disturbances in the state.
- Reiterating that loudspeakers were a "social" and not a "religious" matter, he made it clear that if Muslims try to make it a 'religious' issue, then Hindus would also reply to it with religion.
- "I request the police personnel here.... Go and start removing those loudspeakers right now.... This is not a new issue, it was always there, but I am giving the solutions.... It's now or never," he declared amid intermittent rounds of applause.
- Claiming that all loudspeakers in the state are illegal, he asked if Uttar Pradesh could bring them down, then why not Maharashtra.
- He again slammed Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar for starting casteist politics in Maharashtra which has done huge harm and has now percolated even to educational institutions where students first think of their caste before making friends.
- "Pawar regularly invoked Shahu-Ambedkar-Phule, but never Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.... After I raised the issue, he started doing it and speaks of the Maratha King.... He is an atheist as per his own daughter (Baramati MP Supriya Sule)'s statement in the parliament.... After I pointed it out, photos of the family doing prayers are now going viral," Raj claimed.
- The MNS chief said he held just two rallies in Mumbai and Thane last month and "look how they are blabbering", and announced that in the coming days, he would hold rallies in each of the (36) districts in the state.
- Raj, 53, hopes to rattle the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, headed by his estranged cousin, Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, along with Nationalist Congress Party-Congress. The timing of today's rally was considered strategic, as a series of top civic bodies in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad, etc are slated to go to polls soon as a run-up to the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2024, where the MNS hopes to make a killing.
- Though cosy with the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the MNS is still shy of openly proclaiming their apolitical dalliance', but nevertheless attempting to grab a piece of the Hindutva cake that is claimed by both the BJP and Shiv Sena.
(With inputs from IANS)