The Maharashtra BJP leaders today decided to skip the all-party meeting called by the Shiv Sena-led state government amid the growing tensions between the two parties.
The meeting, which was chaired by Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, held discussions on the ongoing row over the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa and the use of loudspeakers at religious sites in the state.
After the meeting, Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray said that it was decided that a delegation will meet the representatives of the central government and discuss the issue.
Addressing a press conference along with Aaditya Thackeray, Mr Patil urged the centre to come up with a law that will be applicable across the country.
"If the centre makes a national-level rule over loudspeakers, issues won't come up in the states," he said.
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said, "Do you think they have been arrested for reading the Hanuman Chalisa? They haven't been arrested for that. They have been arrested for their statements to create disturbance."
The Shiv Sena's Aditya Thackeray said it was not a mandir-masjid issue. "This is an issue of loudspeakers being used. If measurements are taken for all loudspeakers, then every religion and every festival will have issues. That's why we have told all the parties present that we should talk to the centre on this issue. And this is a Supreme Court order and therefore we believe it should apply to everyone without hurting anyone. And there should not be a law and order issue...it should apply to all states, not just one state."
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was behind the arrest of Independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana in connection with their announcement to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside his residence.
"If someone has taken the role of Hitler, we felt it's better to fight instead of communicating," he said.
Hitting out at Mr Thackeray for skipping the meeting, Mr Fadnavis said what was the use of an all-party meet when the Chief Minister himself did not attend it.
"Whatever is happening in Mumbai is happening at the behest of the Chief Minister. In such a situation, if the Chief Minister himself is not present in today's meeting, then what is the use of it?" he said.
"Maharashtra govt wants to crush & kill Opposition. Will Hanuman Chalisa be spoken in Pakistan, if not in Maharashtra? If sedition charges get imposed on Navneet & Ravi Rana, we will all chant Hanuman Chalisa. If the govt has the guts, try charging us with sedition," Mr Fadnavis added.
Besides the BJP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray also skipped the meeting.
MNS Chief Raj Thackeray had made a strong pitch for removing loudspeakers from mosques earlier this month. Mr Thackeray had said that if the state government did not remove the high-decibel loudspeakers from mosques before May 3, MNS workers will play the Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques.
Over the last few days, political temperatures in the state have heated up sparked by Mr Thackeray's remarks.
On Sunday, the Maharashtra Home Minister alleged that efforts were on by some people to create an atmosphere conducive for the imposition of President's Rule in the state.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also had recently alleged that the BJP was behind the demands for removing loudspeakers from mosques and reciting Hanuman Chalisa.
He said that intelligence inputs suggest that a conspiracy is underway to create communal tension in Maharashtra and recommend President's Rule, dismissing the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.