As Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari this week gave his unsolicited advice on opening religious places closed amid the pandemic, he accused Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of turning “secular”. He reminded Thackeray, a Shiv Sena leader, of his Hindutva credentials, which include visiting the “Ram temple” at Ayodhya. He exhorted the chief minister to reopen places of worship as soon as possible.

The letter was dashed off in response to an announcement made by Thackeray on October 11, that the government would not open religious places because of the risk of Covid-19. Maharashtra has over 1.5 million cases and 40,000 deaths – both tallies are the highest in the country. The state government has reasoned that restrictions on places of worship had to be extended to avoid crowding ahead of religious festivals.

Koshyari’s letter undermines the constitutional office of the governor in several ways. First, that the governor should think it fit to interfere in the government’s strategy on a public health matter. As the constitutional figurehead of the state, he is to act on the advice of the council ministers and not the other way round.

Second, the blatantly partisan tone of the letter – Koshyari’s missive is in tandem with an aggressive campaign by the Bharatiya...

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