Congress president Janardan Chandurkar stirred a row on Monday after he demanded that the country's highest civilian honours bestowed on those who praise "communal forces" should be withdrawn.
Though he did not name melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, the remarks were apparently aimed at her, as the singer had recently said she wanted to see Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi become the Prime Minister.
While the Shiv Sena slammed Chandurkar for his comments, the BJP called it ‘Modi phobia’. The social media also erupted in protest and termed the comment “distasteful” and “undemocratic”.
"All awards and honours bestowed on those who are praising communal forces should be withdrawn," Chandurkar had said at a function here. However, after he drew flak from political parties and social media, the Congress leader clarified that he had not named anyone.
"My allegation was not against any individual, but about this tendency (to support communal forces). In our country, the awards are given...the society looks up to these people as an ideal and love these people.
"People love them irrespective of caste and community. If in such a situation, they (the awardees) decide to support communal party, the honour bestowed upon them becomes meaningless," Chandurkar said.
"If such people, who are loved by the society, want to indulge in politics, they should come out and practice politics," the Congress leader said.
At a recent function at Pune, BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had found an ardent supporter
in Lata Mangeshkar, who said she would like to see him taking the top job.
After Modi inaugurated a new hospital complex named after Lata's late father Deenanath Mangeshkar, the Bharat Ratna recipient had said, "Narendrabhai is like my brother. All of us want to see him become the Prime Minister. On the auspicious occasion of Diwali, I hope our wishes would come true."
Reacting to Chandurkar's demand, the Shiv Sena said a person does not become a slave of the government just because it gave an award to a person. Party leader Sanjay Raut told a news channel, “These awards are not the property of Chandurkar’s grandfather. These are awards conferred by the government in recognition of a person’s contribution to different fields.”
Lata was bestowed with Bharat Ratna in 2001. She received Padma Bhushan in 1969, Padma Vibhushan in 1999 and Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1989, among other awards. Twitter reacts
@ananthmahadevan: "Recall Lata Mangeshkar's Bharat Ratna and Padma awards" says a politician...why?..was there some manufacturing defect in them?
@syamjee: Bharat Ratna is reserved for Nehru dynasty and their stooges... Understand..? Any doubt...?
@Vidyut: Bhai ho to aisa. BJP wanted Amartya Sen's Bharat Ratna stripped. Now Congress want Lata Mangeshkar's Bharat Ratna stripped. Why give at all?
@aparnanadig1: So much for democracy! "Mumbai Congress chief wants singer Lata Mangeshkar stripped of Bharat Ratna for praising Narendra Modi" #Distasteful
@spinoza9642: From threatening income tax raids on Shweta Menon, to Lata's Bharat Ratna cancellation. "Liberal" Congress threats!
@ranjitmutum: Is Bharat Ratna a property of Congress, why should a pet congressman saying to strip off from Lataji ???