The controversy over Shreehari Aney’s remarks gave fresh ammunition to the Shiv Sena, which trained its guns on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The controversy turned into yet another tussle between the Sena and the BJP with the former questioning Fadnavis’ right to remain in his chair.
“If the chief minister is not bothered about the unity and pride of Maharashtra, then he has no right to remain the chief of the state,” an editorial in Saamna, the mouthpiece of the Sena, stated.
An aggressive Sena is unwilling to let the issue die down and on Tuesday morning, Sena legislators sat outside the Assembly hall and demanded Aney be booked for sedition. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also jumped in the fray as its chief Raj Thackeray called it a sinister conspiracy hatched by the RSS and the BJP to divide Maharashtra.
The Saamna editorial slammed Fadnavis for keeping quiet while Aney was busy insulting the state. “Those rulers who are supporting Aney are also guilty of being anti-Maharashtrian,” said the editorial. “Fadnavis issued a defamation notice to Congress leader Digvijay Singh for dragging his wife into a scam, but failed to show the same alacrity in Aney’s case,” it said. Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik said punitive action is needed.
Raj assailed Aney for denigrating his office at the behest of the RSS and BJP.
“The Sangh Parivar has always been the advocate of smaller states and hence Aney, who is from Nagpur and close to the RSS, is also echoing their views. It was part of the old RSS strategy to test the water and gauge the people’s response,” Raj said. “However, we are firm on a united Maharashtra and we will bash up anyone if they talk of division,” he said.