MUMBAI: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has attacked MNS president Raj Thackeray over the latter's demand for the removal of loudspeakers from mosques, saying the state cannot afford the alleged divisive call given "to please someone eyeing polls".
Without naming Thackeray, Pawar asked what the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief was going to achieve by making such statements and whether "provoking" people will solve the issue of their livelihood.
"The Maharashtra of Shahu, Phule, Ambedkar cannot afford the speeches made to please someone keeping eye on elections," Pawar said at an event in Shirdi in Ahmednagar district on Wednesday.
He said that Maharashtra has ensured communal harmony for years, but "leaders of some parties" have of late been talking about installing loudspeakers "here and there".
"Some people are trying to create confusion in the society. We have been living in harmony for years now. We have been able to keep communal harmony intact in society by not allowing any rift in communities and religions. But leaders of some parties are making a pitch for installing counter- loudspeakers (to play Hanuman chalisa)," the senior NCP leader said.
Taunting Thackeray, Pawar said it is easy to deliver speeches, and added that MNS functionaries themselves have questioned the party chief's remark as they have to face the people and get elected again.
"Why this division? What are we going to achieve out of this?" he asked.
Pawar further said time has come to introspect where such statements would lead Maharashtra and the country to.
"Aren't there other issues? Will the issue of people's bread and butter be solved by provoking them? Will the youths, who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, get their jobs back?" he asked.
The MNS president had last Saturday made a strong pitch for removing high-decibel loudspeakers from mosques.
Addressing a rally at Shivaji Park, Thackeray had also said if such a step was not taken, loudspeakers would be installed outside mosques to play 'Hanuman Chalisa' at higher volume.
The BJP had endorsed Thackeray's demand.
Vasant More, a former MNS corporator in Pune, who is the party's city unit president, had said it is difficult to act on Thackeray's directive about loudspeakers.
"As a city unit president, I certainly have to accept the stand of party chief Rajsaheb Thackeray, but I think as a people's representative (corporator ), the issue (to implement Thackeray's diktat ) can be inconvenient for me in my ward. A people's representative has to take an inclusive approach," More had said.