Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on Saturday, 29 April, that the party was fighting against people who were planning to divide the country by causing riots in the name of the Hanuman Chalisa, adding that late party founder Bal Thackeray, would be happy with them for resisting these attempts, reported news agency PTI.
Raut's remarks came a day after Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey took a dig at the Maha Vikas Aghadi-led Maharashtra government for "arresting people for reciting Hanuman Chalisa".
The latter had remarked that Bal Thackeray's soul "would have been hurt" had he seen people being arrested for such things, while speaking to reporters in Pune.
Responding to the potshot, Raut said, "Balasaheb Thackeray will shower us with flowers for doing so," adding that the late leader may even have shed a tear after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) "betrayed the Shiv Sena," said the PTI report.
Raut has also accused the BJP of blasphemy for using Lord Hanuman's name for politics and inciting violence.
Choubey's discernment for the party came after Lok Sabha MP from Amravati Navneet Rana and her husband MLA Ravi Rana were arrested by the Mumbai Police on 23 April for "creating enmity between different groups," after they said they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa in front of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray's residence Matoshree.
The couple was sent to judicial custody a day later after being charged for sedition.
The police noted that the couple's statements did not fall within the reasonable limits of the right to freedom of expression and could thus be treated as sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They added that reading a holy text at a private residence without prior permission from its owner also amounted to trespassing.
The Ranas moved their bail pleas in connection to the sedition case in a special court, asking for an early hearing. However, the Mumbai Police on Friday, 29 April, opposed the bail please in the case, calling the plan to chant the Hanuman Chalisa "a big plot to create a challenge to the law and order situation".
(With inputs from PTI)