Hanuman Chalisa row: Maharashtra MLA Ravi Rana backs off, citing PM Modi visit
Maharashtra MLA Ravi Rana - at the centre of the 'Hanuman Chalisa' row in Mumbai - said he was withdrawing his protest because prime minister Narendra Modi's visit Sunday to attend the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Awards Ceremony. He also slammed chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for neglecting the state and running a 'Hitlershahi' government.
"Our aim was fulfilled, though Ravi Rana and I couldn't reach 'Matoshree' (Thackeray's Mumbai residence), 'Hanuman Chalisa' that was supposed to be chanted by us was chanted by bhakts," Navneet Rana, Ravi Rana's wife, said.
"Shiv Sena has become a party of goons. Uddhav Thackeray only knows how to file offences against people and put them behind bars. He's creating a Bengal-like situation in Maharashtra," she added.
Ravi Rana and Navneet Kaur Rana, an independent ,MP, had said they would recite the 'Hanuman Chalisa' in front of 'Matoshree' at 9 am.
This met with howls of protest from Sainiks, hundreds of whom gathered outside the Ranas' home waving flags and shouting slogans. Some broke through barricades and tried to enter the building but were stopped by police.
The Ranas hit back accusing Thackeray of having orchestrated the incident. "Maharashtra CM ordered Shiv Sena workers to heckle us. .." Navneet Kaur said, while her husband said: "Uddhav Thackeray only seeking political gains."
Security outside 'Matoshree', Uddhav Thackeray's home, was also increased, and Sainiks and Shiv Sena leaders were there too. "We'll keep ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ in front of us… waiting to teach them a lesson," Sena's Kishori Pednekar declared.
Amid tensions police served a notice asking the Ranas not to disturb the peace.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut and home minister Dilip Walse-Patil, meanwhile, ripped into the Ranas. Raut, in particular, pulled no punches, declaring ‘if you have guts, come forward and fight’.
Walse-Patil claimed the Ranas were acting on instructions from others to disturb the state. He dismissed them as ‘pawns’ of the BJP and said the purpose was to destroy law and order and then demand President's rule.
The 'Hanuman Chalisa' call came amid a row in Maharashtra over mosques' use of loudspeakers for the azaan (call to prayer).
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray kickstarted matters after demanding the state remove loudspeakers from mosques, failing which his workers would play the 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside mosques.
With input from ANI, PTI