Won’t drop ‘Hindu’, ‘Jai Bhavani’ from SS-UBT theme song: Uddhav Thackeray dares EC

Mumbai: Shiv Sena-UBT President Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday challenged an order of the Election Commission (EC) asking it to remove the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Jai Bhavani’ from the party’s new theme song.

In a strong attack on the EC, Thackeray, a former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, said that the poll body’s diktat was unacceptable, and his party would not drop the words from the song – intended to popularise its new symbol, ‘Flaming Torch’ (Mashaal) among the electorate, released amid fanfare last week.

The ‘Flaming Torch’ symbol was allotted to the SS-UBT after the original ‘Bow and Arrow’ symbol was given to the Shiv Sena, led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, after the party split in June 2022.

The SS-UBT’s new anthem has the words woven in it — ‘Hindu’ and ‘Jai Bhavani’, in the lyrics and in the background chorus — to which the EC has taken objection and shot off a notice asking these to be deleted, but Thackeray is firm on continuing to use them.

“Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj founded the ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ with the blessings of Goddess Tulja Bhavani Temple in Dharashiv (earlier, Osmanabad) district. We are not seeking votes in the name of the ‘Hindu’ religion or Goddess Tulja Bhavani. This is an insult to the pride of Maharashtra and we shall not tolerate it. If we accuse the EC of disrespecting the revered deity of the state, will it be acceptable to them,” Thackeray said.

Elaborating, Thackeray said that the EC should first take action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah who publicly invoked Lord Hanuman and Lord Ram to seek votes in the Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections last year.

He recalled how PM Modi had asked people to chant ‘Bajrang Bali Ki Jai’ while pressing the button on EVMs in Karnataka, while HM Shah had offered free trips to the people for Lord Ram Temple darshan in Ayodhya if they voted back the BJP to power in Madhya Pradesh.

“I had written to the EC thereafter seeking to know if religion can be invoked in elections, and when there was no reply, I sent a reminder which remained ignored. When the HinduHridaySamrat Balasaheb Thackeray used words like ‘garve se kaho, hum Hindu hain’ and ‘mandir wahin banayenge’, he was barred from voting rights for six years in 1999,” said Uddhav Thackeray.

He made it clear that if the EC acts against the SS-UBT, then it would also have to specify what action was taken against PM Modi and HM Shah for their campaign utterances in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, or whether the laws have been changed clearing the use of religion to seek votes.

Vowing to continue the usage of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Jai Bhavani’ in the SS-UBT public meetings, Thackeray warned that now his party would even add Chhatrapati’s famed war cry, ‘Har Har Mahadev’ at its rallies and poll meetings.

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