Why calls to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers in Maharashtra has snowballed into a MNS vs Shiv Sena fight

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Why calls to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers in Maharashtra has snowballed into a MNS vs Shiv Sena fight
© Provided by Firstpost Why calls to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers in Maharashtra has snowballed into a MNS vs Shiv Sena fight

The Hanuman Chalisa has suddenly become a hot topic in Maharashtra with leaders from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by Raj Thackeray, playing the Hindu hymn from loudspeakers.

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On Tuesday, the issue garnered more headlines when Mohit Kamboj, a billionaire bullion entrepreneur and among the richest Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, offered to provide free loudspeakers to play the Hanuman Chalisa in public places.

मंदिर में लगाने के लिए जिसको लाउड स्पीकर ( भोंगे ) चाहिए वो निशुल्क हमसे माँग सकता हैं !

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सभी हिंदू की एक आवाज़ होनी चाहिए !

मंदिरावर हनुमान चालिसा यासाठी भोंगे आम्ही देवू ज्यांना लावायचे आहेत त्यांना !

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हिंदु एकता आवाज आलाच पाहिजे !

जय श्री राम ! हर हर महादेव !

— Mohit Kamboj Bharatiya – मोहित कंबोज भारतीय (@mohitbharatiya_) April 4, 2022

We take a look at what this controversy is all about and its link to the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections.

Hanuman Chalisa vs Azaan

On Saturday, MNS chief Raj Thackeray called on the Maharashtra government to remove loudspeakers from mosques, warning that if it failed to do so his party would place loudspeakers in front of mosques and play the “Hanuman Chalisa”.

Addressing party workers on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian New Year, Thackeray said, “I am not against prayers, you can pray at your home, but the government should take a decision on removing mosque loudspeakers. I am warning now… Remove loudspeakers or else will put loudspeakers in front of the mosque and play Hanuman Chalisa.”

The very next day, local MNS workers assembled at various places across the state and played the Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers and chanted it loudly. They also raised the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

#WATCH ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ being played from loudspeakers at the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena office in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar

MNS Chief Raj Thackeray yesterday said, “I am warning now…Remove loudspeakers or else will put loudspeakers in front of the mosque and play Hanuman Chalisa.” pic.twitter.com/nERn23Vg7M

— ANI (@ANI) April 3, 2022

The Quint reported that MNS leader Mahendra Bhanushali was briefly taken into custody by the Mumbai police on 3 April, for playing the Hanuman Chalisa on a loudspeaker without the required permission. He said that a fine of Rs 5,050 was imposed on him along with a warning of strict action in case of a repetition of the offence.

This is not the first time that Raj Thackeray has raked up the issue of loudspeakers for Azaan. In July 2018, the estranged cousin of Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had advised the Muslims to offer Namaz at home so that nobody is disturbed.

Addressing a gathering, he had said: “I always ask the Muslims, why they need loudspeaker for Azaan? Whom do they want to show? If they want to offer namaz do it at home, why on roads?”

BJP chimes in

The erstwhile ally of the Shiv Sena, the BJP, has also waded into the row, demanding for a ban on use of loudspeakers at mosques in the state.

BJP legislator Prasad Lad announced that his party was strongly against ‘azaan’ using loudspeakers and wants the practice to stop.

In fact, a BJP delegation comprising Mumbai unit president Mangal Prabhat Lodha and legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar had called on police commissioner Sanjay Pandey to press their demand for a ban on azaan over the loudspeaker.

A distraction for BMC polls?

The Shiv Sena and the NCP, with whom the former is in a three-way alliance in the state, have both dismissed the row created by Raj Thackeray and the BJP, saying it was a ploy to distract voters ahead of Mumbai’s civic body elections.

According to a report in the Free Press Journal, Shiv Sena legislator Manisha Kayande questioned Lad’s timing in raking up the issue. She said the BJP had not raised it at the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

“Why was the issue not raised during the UP assembly elections? Aren’t there mosques? Why Lad (or the BJP) did not suggest this before the UP elections?” she sought to know.

Sena’s Sanjay Raut also rejected Thackeray’s comments, saying that the law of the land was supreme in Maharashtra.

“Raj Thackeray was talking about taking down the loudspeakers installed in mosques yesterday. First, see in which BJP ruled states Azaan has been stopped, loudspeakers removed from mosques… This is Maharashtra, where law of the land is followed,” Raut said.

He also indicated that Thackeray was dancing to the tune of the BJP.

Political experts also noted that the issue was curiously timed. In the recent times, the Raj Thackeray-led party has been seen siding with the BJP on several issues.

While both parties have ruled out the possibility of an alliance, there are reports that the BJP will use the MNS to put pressure on the Sena.

With inputs from agencies

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