After Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar issued a directive that Maharashtra government officers must greet callers with ‘Vande Mataram’ on the phone, state Congress chief Nana Patole on Tuesday countered that by saying that people must greet each other with ‘Jai Baliraja’ to express their gratitude to farmers.
Mungantiwar’s statement was criticised by leaders of both Congress and NCP, who said the BJP was raking up chanting of ‘Vande Mataram’ to deflect attention from major issues.
Patole said, “Those who want to express gratitude to farmers, they must say ‘Jai Baliraja’. All governments must remember farmers, or else our GDP will go for a toss.” He said the Congress will hold a meeting before the beginning of the Monsoon Session of the state legislature and it will ask all MLAs to say ‘Jai Baliraja’.
Talking to reporters, Patole said, “There is no reason for us to have any objection about ‘Vande Mataram’. We are proud of it but we can’t force anyone to say it. Farmers are the backbone of our country and they cannot be ignored. The government is trying to focus on issues which are communal in nature to divert attention from important issues.” “Rather than working on the declining GDP, the government is asking people to change their mobile DP. To honour the farmers and to give them respect, we have taken a stand to say ‘Jai Baliraja’,” he said.