State news

Mungantiwar softens on Vande Mataram, says shall persuade opponents

By Dilip Chaware

Maharashtra’s cultural affairs minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will spearhead a campaign that will go on till 26 January next year to persuade those opposing the use of ‘Vande Mataram’ greeting to adopt it.

Mungantiwar’s announcement on the occasion of the 75th anniversary day of Indian Independence that every call to any government office will be responded to by Vande Mataram immediately evoked sharp reactions. The first to come out was Raza Academy, which said it will not accept such a fiat. Nationalist Congress party leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Jeetendra Avhad, both former ministers, opposed the initiative. They were joined by many others.

Sensing the adverse reactions, Mungantiwar has clarified that there is no compulsion to say Vande Mataram. However, he raised a question mark about those opposing the use. “Vande Mataram means saluting the motherland. Why should anyone oppose to bow before it?” he asked. “If we can adopt a foreign word like ‘hello,’ why not accept something that is purely Indian,” he has asked rhetorically.

Critics of Mungantiwar have reminded him that every Shiv Sena worker uses the ‘Jai Maharashtra’ greeting. This includes chief minister Eknath Shinde. “How will you compel them to say Vande Mataram in place of Jai Maharashtra,” he has been asked sarcastically.

The outline of Mungantiwar’s Vande Mataram Acceptance campaign will be announced shortly.

Dilip Chaware
A veteran journalist, formerly Special Correspondent, The Times of India, Mumbai.

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