In a veiled threat to the saffron brigade, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday said his government would take legal action against it for dividing people in the name of caste, creed and religion.
Chavan told a gathering of 400 Congress leaders - district and block unit presidents -- to expose fundamentalists by reacting strongly to their attempts to defame the Congress leadership and create social unrest.
Chavan made the appeal after the state Congress passed a resolution condemning Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal for threatening Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The resolution also criticised organisers of the 84th National Marathi Literary Festival for glorifying Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse.
“There are deliberate efforts and part of a strategy. We will not tolerate glorification (of Godse) or threats (to Gandhi),” he said. “The government will definitely take all possible legal action but then you [party workers] also must expose them.”
This is the first time that Chavan has made such a strong statement after taking over as chief minister in November.
It is significant in the context of ongoing political protests by the Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena against Pune Municipal Corporation’s decision of displacing the statue of Dadoji Konddev, whose role as the teacher of Maratha warrior king, Shivaji, is not acceptable to a section of society and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government.
Chavan, however, chose to remain silent on the activities of the Sambhaji Brigade that has been threatening institutions and individuals over references to Konddev as Shivaji’s teacher.
The state Congress has decided to take the anti-saffron message to the grassroots. The party will involve the youth in the process. It will conduct 288 public meetings across the state over the next two months.
The Congress party’s national general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, is expected to tour the state next month to review the progress.