Governor of Maharashtra must stick to constitutional values of secularism and social justice

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

(Asian Independent)

Governor of Maharashtra must uphold secular republican values of our Constitution

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is upset with the chief minister Udhav Thackrey and his government for now allowing the ‘religious places’ to open up during the festive season. Some of the important ‘points’ raised by the governor need to be first read and then analyzed.

Our gods and goddesses have been condemned to stay under lockdown

“You have been a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as Chief Minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi.

“I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of places of worship time and again or have you turned ‘secular’ yourselves, a term you hated?”

It look that governor Koshiyari is highly ‘disturbed’ to see the temples under the lock down but the tone of his letter is highly derogatory and unbecoming of a governor of the state. The letter seems to be drafted by the IT cell of the BJP. Ofcourse, Koshiyari, an old hand of RSS can’t be expected to dispose off his ‘ideology’ simply because he has become ‘governor’. The fact is his party has not shed its ‘ideology’ and has already made ‘secularism’ and ‘socialism’ looks like criminal and unconstitutional words. Koshiyari is just following that perception which has been built by the Sangh ideologues all through these years. Sharad Pawar did well to write the letter of protest to the Prime minister against the outburst of Koshiyari who is duty bound to protect constitution and speak the language of the constitution which is still secular in writing even if all the practical purposes the government might have done away with it.

Now, we come to the issue of Maharashtra government dealing with Covid 19. It is the state with highest number of infected people and covid related deaths in India but one must appreciate the government of the state for persistently focusing on the issue and did not let the guard down. The leading Epidemiologists and other experts are already suggesting us that there may be resurge in the Covid 19 cases and next few months are very crucial. It is also a fact that we will face a weather change in the coming days resulting in seasonal ailments like viral fever, cough and cold related issues which can aggravate the situation. We should not forget that government of India itself is campaigning that despite unlocking, we must maintain physical distance, mask and washing of our hand every now and then. Mr Koshiyari and other BJP members should not ignore the fact that in the month of March, the Hindutva groups and others like them blamed Tablighi Jamat for ‘spreading’ the virus after they had ‘wrongly’ congregated for their programme in Nizamuddin. We have got various reports where temple priests and other workers got caught up with Corona virus. Stories from Tirupati and other important places are already available in the media. Even in the state like Uttar Pradesh, there are restriction for public programme and also temples. So, what is wrong if Maharashtra government has not allowed opening up of temple to protect people.

We all know Gods and Goddesses were the biggest helpless creatures during Corona virus and frankly speaking we know ‘their’ ‘power’. The political leadership world over know that it is ultimately man and science which has to do the needful to protect humanity but then regressive forces will always be there to ensure that people continue to remain religious so that their ‘politics’ can flourish. It is not the matter of Hindutva or secularism but purely issue of governance which should be prime in our heart. We all know for the next three months there is big festive reason beginning with Navaratras, Dusshera, Diwali and Chhutth and in all these festival, it would be very difficult for authorities to keep the Covid protocols intact when people throng to these places.

When doctors were suggesting the resurgence of the Covid cases in the coming month, it was not merely the weather but the festive season which is now at our door. We have to decide what we wish and whether it is good to allow people crowd the public places and then help aggravate the situation towards worsening it or should be focus on protective measures. Political parties, social and cultural organisations would do well not to compete with each other playing victim card in this regard and help government do the work. We know the politicization of religious festivals particularly Dusshera and now Chutth too included happened long back in Maharasthra where no procedures will be followed and right now we are in a very risky situation so why should we demand for such things where people’s lives would be in danger.

The comparison of opening up of bars and restaurant is absolutely wrong and misguided as they are not public places and have to start like any other industry. There are things which should have opened long back with specifically designed protocol so that we can maintain balance between people’s need and running the economy too. There are no issues with religious places but it is best known to the government whether it is good to open or not. Just because there is a ‘sentiment’ you cannot risk lives of people further. Whether Shiv Sena is a Hindutva party or not, the stand taken by Udhav Thackrey and his government on various issues including that of protecting Aarey Forest area should be appreciated and acknowledged. Governor’s letter to chief minister therefore is not in public interest but promoting his party’s propaganda and deliberately creating obstacles for the Maharashtra government  which is rather unfortunate and must not be allowed to happen in future.