Maharashtra Governor in line of fire for saying ‘Mumbai won’t exist without Gujaratis’

As parties accused the Governor of anti-Marathi sentiment, a Raj Bhavan release later clarified that Koshyari only praised the contribution of Rajasthani-Marwari and Gujarati communities in making Mumbai the financial capital of the country

BS Koshyari, Maharashtra Governor
The Governor made the statement after the naming ceremony of a chowk in Andheri, a western suburb of Mumbai.

In yet another controversy in Maharashtra, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has been accused of “hurting the sentiments of Marathis” by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and others. In his speech, the Governor had said: “You may call Mumbai the financial capital of India but if you remove Gujaratis and Marwaris, it would no longer retain the tag.”

On Friday, Koshyari, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh veteran. was speaking at an inauguration event of a chowk in Andheri renamed after the late Shantidevi Champalalji Kothari.

Koshiyari said, “I keep telling people sometimes that if Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra — especially from Mumbai and Thane — then you will have no money left.”

The speech sparked a Marathi vs Guajarati row as top state leaders claimed it was an “insult to locals”.

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On Saturday, the Governor’s office quoted him as saying: “I spoke only on the contribution made by Gujaratis and Rajasthanis. Marathi people built Maharashtra by working hard, this is why many Marathi entrepreneurs are famous today.”

“The contribution of Marathis is the maximum in bringing up Maharashtra. Mumbai is the pride of Maharashtra,” the statement further read, news agency ANI reported.

Uddhav, Cong, NCP react strongly

Uddhav Thackeray reacted strongly to the remark. “The governor has crossed the limit. He should respect the chair he is occupying. I do not want to insult someone holding the post of governor. I respect the chair but Bhagat Singh Koshyari insulted Marathis and there is anger among the people.”

“He is trying to divide the society,” Uddhav said demanding an apology from Koshiyari.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party too objected to his remarks, calling it an insult to other communities especially Maharashtrians. Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole condemned the governor’s remark and called for his immediate removal.

“We condemn the remarks made by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. He should apologise to the public. He should be removed from his position with immediate effect,” ANI quoted Patole as saying.

Former Maharashtra minister and Sena MLA Aditya Thackeray also joined the opposition leaders in demanding governor’s apology for “his anti-Maharashtra and anti-Marathi stance.”

“Governor’s statement is not only an insult to every citizen of Maharashtra, but also a disrespect to the contributions and sacrifices of many great people born in this soil,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party distanced itself from Koshyari’s remarks. “We do not agree with what governor said,” says party leader Ashish Shelar.

Shinde breaks his silence

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde also broke his silence over the ongoing controversy, saying the government doesn’t agree with governor’s remarks. Expressing his difference of opinion, Shinde stated that the ‘hard work of the Marathis was behind making Mumbai the financial capital of India’. However, he noted that the Governor had already issued a clarification on his remark.

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“We don’t agree with the statement of the Governor. Everyone knows Babasaheb Thackeray’s contributions. Nobody should belittle the contribution of the Marathi people. The hard work of the Marathis is behind making Mumbai the financial capital. People from outside come to find work in Mumbai, the credit for all this goes to the Marathi maanus,” said Eknath Shinde.

Among others who expressed anger on the latest speech were Raj Thackeray. “The post of the governor is a very respected designation so people will not say anything against this, but your statement has hurt the people of Maharashtra,” the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief said. The Shiv Sena and the MNS were founded on the principle of Maratha pride.

(With Agency inputs)

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