Coming under the scanner for issuing a circular banning display of religious pictures and rituals in offices and state-run schools, the Maharashtra government has recalled the order and a show-cause notice was slapped on the official who sent it across the state without getting a nod from his superiors.
The clarification in this regard was made today as Shiv Sena ministers met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding withdrawal of the circular, a day after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray attacked the government over it. Soon after the meet, state Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the government has already revoked the order and action has been ordered against the official concerned.
“The show cause notice has been issued to the desk officer who sent the letter regarding no religious activities in government offices. He had sent the letter without prior permission of the Deputy Secretary. Clarification regarding the same was made on January 25, but still it was mentioned in the January 26 speech (referring to Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s criticism of BJP over the order),” Tawde said.
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“A leader of a political party (Thackeray) should not say anything without verifying. Shiv Sena ministers are misguiding their leaders and public at large,” he said. Earlier, when Sena ministers met Fadnavis to make a formal representation on the issue, he had assured the delegation that the circular would be revoked.
The circular was issued by the Rural Development department to all district councils on January 4. It stated that “putting up photos of gods and religious figures or religious texts or celebration of religious festivals and pujas in government offices, semi-government offices, offices of local bodies, state-run educational institutions is against the provisions of the Constitution”.
It further directed the district councils to “uphold the values of the Constitution” by immediately removing all religious pictures/texts/deities and stop ‘pujas’ and celebrations. Officials had also been asked to remove such slogans or portraits respectfully. Yesterday, Thackeray had slammed the state government over the circular, alleging that ministers from his party were not taken into confidence before issuing it.
“Where was your transparency before you took this decision? Why were Sena ministers not taken into confidence? Had they been, they would have strongly protested it,” he had said. Wondering as to why pictures of deities could not be displayed in offices, the Sena chief had said that he accepted secularism, but it should be applied without discrimination.
“Unworthy people are sitting in the government. Do they not understand that people do not keep performing pooja in government offices all day? If you have the courage, implement the Uniform Civil Code as well,” he had said.