Mumbai: Maharashtra government’s diktat to all government staff and officers to answer phone calls with ‘Vande Mataram’ instead of the traditional Hello has sparked a controversy. The Government Resolution (GR) or circular was issued on Saturday.
Questioning the Shinde government’s move, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi on Sunday said that the state had always had a ‘Jai Maharashtra’ greeting since Bal Thackeray’s time, and this new campaign was only introduced to polarise Muslims. He said saying ‘Vande Mataram’ is against their faith.
“I had met Bala (Thackeray) saab once or twice, he would always say ‘Jai Maharashtra’. All their sainiks would say the same. Even CM Shinde would say ‘Jai Maharashtra’. In Maharashtra, if a GR is issued which leaves out ‘Jai Maharashtra’ and takes up ‘Vande Mataram’, it indicates you (CM Shinde) are under their (BJP and RSS) pressure,” Azmi said.
He said people of Maharashtra would question this and ask if it was a sin to say ‘Jai Maharashtra’.
The campaign was launched across the state on Sunday, October 2, the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and as part of Amrit Mahotsav. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar launched the campaign from Wardha on Sunday morning.
On this occasion, Fadnavis said ‘Vande Mataram’ played an important role in India’s independence movement.
“Bhagat Singh’s last word was ‘Vande Mataram’, we have to bring Vande Mataram in our daily routine again,” he said. “From today onwards, we will start the ‘Vande Mataram’ movement.”
Other opposition parties also criticized the government’s move. NCP National Spokesperson Clyde Crasto said the government should not force people to switch to ‘Vande Mataram’ from traditional Hello while answering the phone call.
वर्धा या म.गांधींच्या कर्मभूमीतून आज "हॅलो ऐवजी वंदे मातरम्" या अभियानाचा शुभारंभ उपमुख्यमंत्री @Dev_Fadnavis यांच्या हस्ते झाले. त्यावेळी झालेल्या प्रचंड जनसभेत "हॅलो ऐवजी वंदे मातरम्" या अभियानाची पार्श्वभूमी सांगितली. @InfoWardha @RVikhePatil @watermanofindia #Vandematram pic.twitter.com/OcGOWhi7KP— Sudhir Mungantiwar (@SMungantiwar) October 2, 2022
“This is nothing but infringement of their Right to Freedom of speech and also imposition of a particular mindset on the people. Let them say Vande Mataram with pride, don’t force them to say so,” Crasto said.
The GR stated that employees should create awareness among the people who come to meet them by using ‘Vande Mataram’ as a greeting. It also said replacing a meaningless greeting like Hello with Vande Mataram will also generate national pride.
It may be noted here that the proposal had been floated by Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in mid-August, but the government remained in a denial mode.