After drawing severe flak for the unabashed appeasement of Muslim minorities, Shiv Sena leader Pandurang Sakpal back-pedalled on his announcement of organising an ‘Azaan recitation competition’.
Sakpal, who said in an interview earlier that he found Azaan peaceful and soothing, later said that holding an azaan recitation competition was only a suggestion proffered by a Muslim party functionary and that he has no plans of holding such an event.
Sakpal backtracks, claims he has no plans to organise azaan recitation competition
The announcement was made by Sakpal after a video of him praising azaan and declaring to keep an azaan recitation competition had gone viral on the social media websites. The video triggered a groundswell of opposition from netizens, along with the political parties such as BJP, who lambasted the Shiv Sena functionary for brazenly pandering to the minorities.
The BJP, in its criticism of the announcement, contended that Shiv Sena had already abandoned its support for Hindutva and by announcing an azaan recitation competition, it was trying to burnish its newly acquired ‘secular’ credentials, in a brazen attempt to woo minorities for their votes. The BJP spokesperson said that the only thing left for Shiv Sena now is to carry a “green flag” on its shoulders.
Following the backlash on his announcement to keep an azaan recitation competition, Pandurang did an about-turn, stating that he simply voiced the suggestion by a delegation of party’s Muslim office-bearers a couple of days ago.
“They said that their children were loitering around on the streets and we should organise a competition for them. Then, on the lines of Bhagavad Gita recitation competition we organise in our area, I suggested them to hold an online azaan competition,” Sakpal said.
Sakpal likened Azaan to Maha Aarti
Earlier yesterday, a video of Shiv Sena division chief Pandurang Sakpal announcing to hold Azaan recitation competition had gone viral on the internet. Speaking about how the idea of holding an Azaan recitation competition crossed his mind, Sakpal said, “I live next to the Bada Kabristan in Marine Lines. That is why I get to hear the Azaan every day. I have found the Azaan to be amazing and soothing. Whoever hears it once, eagerly waits for the next schedule of Azaan. That is why I came up with the idea of holding Azaan competition for the children of the Muslim community.”
He further added that the children of the Muslim community wonderfully recite Azaan and the purpose of keeping the competition was to provide a platform for talented artists. Sakpal even claimed that Shiv Sena will bear the cost of rewards granted to the winners of the competition.
In his interview, Sakpal had likened Azaan to Maha Aarti and took a swipe at those who opposed Azaan. “Azaan lasts for only 5 minutes. So, if anyone is bothered by these few minutes, he should be ignored like a rock of salt. The tradition of Azaan is several centuries old. It is not a recent phenomenon. Such protestations should be ignored. Azaan is as important as Maha Aarti. It’s a symbol of love and peace,” Sakpal said.