Yank off loudspeakers from mosques - Athawale says RPI-A, BJP don't support MNS
Nagpur, April 19 (IANS) Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday reiterated his Republican Party of India (A) does not agree with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray's demand for removing loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.
Talking to mediapersons, he said even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not support Raj Thackeray's controversial stand on the issue that has raked up a political row in the state.
"We oppose the demand of MNS to remove loudspeakers from mosques. Even the founder of Shiv Sena, the late Balasaheb Thackeray was against any such demand. I feel divisions should not be created between religions like this," Athawale urged.
Though certain BJP leaders in Mumbai and other parts have endorsed the MNS stance, Athawale claimed that the BJP is not in favour of the call for banning loudspeakers on mosques.
"The BJP has never said such a thing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas', so there's no question of his party adopting a contrary position," the RPI(A) President pointed out.
Dismissing it as Raj Thackeray's "agenda and he was free to pursue it", Athawale made it clear that the demand itself is wrong and could create rifts between communities.
In fact, a couple of years ago, when the MNS had raised a similar demand, the RPI (A) had vehemently opposed it terming it as "detrimental to national unity".
Athawale had also declared that his party would stand firmly behind the Indian Muslims if they faced problems like this.
The RPI(A) chief's observations came amid the huge row kicked by Raj Thackeray's ultimatum to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to remove all loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.
Failing this, the MNS activists have threatened to blare out 'Hanuman Chalisa' near mosques at double high volumes - a warning that the MVA government apprehends could result in a law-and-order situation.
Not willing to take any chances, the state Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil on Monday announced that henceforth police permission would be compulsory for use of loudspeakers at all religious places.
Considered a smart political move, it implied that if MNS activists plan to play 'Hanuman Chalisa' they would need police clearance and follow all the due norms and processes including the Supreme Court permitted decibel levels, while the use of illegal loudspeakers would also be detected.
Nevertheless, Walse-Patil said today (Tuesday) that the state police apparatus is closely monitoring the situation but ruled out any chances of communal flare-ups after the ongoing fasting month of Ramzan is over.