Reported By:| Edited By: DNA Web Team |Source: DNA Web Desk |Updated: Oct 02, 2022, 11:38 AM IST
The Maharashtra government on Saturday issued a Government Resolution (GR) making it mandatory for all government and government-funded institutions to use the greeting ‘Vande Mataram’ instead of ‘hello’ while receiving phone calls from citizens or government officials, and also while addressing staff, speaking to citizens or making public announcements.
The campaign was launched by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar across the state on Sunday, October 2, the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and as part of Amrit Mahotsav.
Notably, this proposal was initially mooted by Mungantiwar soon after he was sworn-in recently. He later backtracked and said that any equivalent word reflecting nationalism can be used.
Criticising the campaign, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi on Sunday said that the state had always had a ‘Jai Maharashtra’ greeting since Bal Thackeray’s time, and this new campaign was only introduced to polarise Muslims, who he said cannot say ‘Vande Mataram’ as it is against their faith.
“I had met Bala (Thackeray) saab once or twice, he would always say ‘Jai Maharashtra’. All their sainiks would say the same. Even CM Shinde would say ‘Jai Maharashtra’. In Maharashtra, if a GR is issued which leaves out ‘Jai Maharashtra’ and takes up ‘Vande Mataram’, it indicates you (CM Shinde) are under their (BJP and RSS) pressure,” Azmi said.
“They are introducing this only to try and polarise. Muslims can’t say ‘Vande Mataram’. They are trying to divide us. We (Muslims) love our country but we only bow our heads before Allah, we can never say ‘Vande Mataram’, we will definitely say ‘Saare Jahan se Acha Hindustan,” he added.
The move drew criticism from other opposition parties as well, as National Spokesperson Clyde Crasto said that while ‘Vande Mataram’ invokes a sense of pride and patriotism, they should not be forced.
“Vande Mataram invokes a sense of pride and a feeling of patriotism among Indians and forcing them to say so is not right, especially when they are asking their employees to say Vande Mataram even when they use their private telephones. This is nothing but infringement of their Right to Freedom of speech and also imposition of a particular minset on the people. Let them say Vande Mataram with pride, don’t force them to say so,” he said.
Congress Spokesperson Charan Sapra alleged that this was a ploy to divert attention from main issues.