Mumbai, Mar 28 (IANS): Amid the ongoing row between the Congress and its ally Shiv Sena-UBT over the "insults" to 'Swatantryaveer' Vinayak D. Savarkar, Maharashtra's Shiv Sena Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday jumped in by announcing processions across the state.
He said that 'Savarkar Gaurav Yatras' shall be held in Maharashtra and also changed his social media accounts by replacing his profile pictures with that of Savarkar.
The war between Congress-Sena-UBT suddenly erupted again after Thackeray raised objections to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's remarks two days ago and said such "insults" to the "deity" of Maharashtra would not be tolerated, and party MP Sanjay Raut endorsed the comments.
Hoping to upstage Thackeray, Shinde on Monday slammed Gandhi and said he would hold Savarkar processions in the state, which would also double as a show of strength ahead of the upcoming civic elections.
"I strongly condemn Rahul Gandhi's statements on Veer Savarkar.. It was because of his contribution that India got freedom. He had spent many years in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Isles. Rahul Gandhi should go and stay there for one day," said Shinde sharply.
Referring to Thackeray's criticism of Gandhi, Shinde asked whether he had the guts to thrash the Congress leader with shoes, just as the late Balasaheb Thackeray had done with another Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis added that the 'Savarkar Gaurav Yatra' shall be held in every district to highlight his contributions and also protest against those who heap insults on him.
Congress Chief spokesperson Atul Londhe flayed Shinde's declaration of the 'Savarkar Gaurav Yatra' and said he was merely reading from the script prepared by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal also entered the fracas by saying that Savarkar is a much-revered figure in the state and such statements must be avoided.
Congress President Nana Patole reiterated that the Congress' stance on the Savarkar issue is clear from the beginning.
"However, it is the BJP which is trying to split the Maha Vikas Aghadi, but they will never succeed in their designs. The MVA shall always be united," said Patole.
Meanwhile, Patole and Raut said on Monday that they are soon planning a meeting or telephonic interaction between Thackeray-Gandhi to smoothen out the thorny issue that threatens the fragile MVA alliance, though senior leaders on both sides rule out any such possibility.