Congress president professor Janardhan Chandurkar demanded that renowned singer and Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna awardee Lata Mangeshkar should return her awards to the government for her opinion on Narendra Modi.
Much to the embarrassment of the Congress party members, Chandurkar has even threatened an agitation if the artist did not surrender the awards.
The controversy roots back to Lata Mangeshkar's speech at the Dinanath Mangeshkar hospital in Pune where the singer said that "it was her dream to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister."
To this, Chandurkar said (in a function marking the 125th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on Monday) that personalities receiving such esteemed awards and still praising an "anti-secular" leader like Narendra Modi should return their awards to the government or the latter should take them back.
Not so surprisingly, the comment has attracted the criticism of the opposition Shiv Sena and the BJP.
Shiv Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut said,"These awards are not the property of Chandurkar's grandfather. These are awards conferred by the government in recognition of a person's contribution to different fields. The government had given the Bharat Ratna and other prestigious awards to Lataji in recognition of her immense contribution to the world of music. One does not become a slave of the government just because it gave an award to a person. Every award-winner, including Lataji, is entitled to her opinion. It is absurd to ask her to return the awards. If Chandurkar dislikes Lataji so much, he should stop listening to her songs."
BJP leader Atul Shah also commented saying that it was the singer's right to express her opinion and that the remark by the Congress leader proved his immaturity. Few of the Congress party members also agree.
"It is silly on our president's part to target Lataji. Instead of strengthening the organisation, he is creating a perfectly avoidable controversy," a Congress office-bearer said.
"Lata Mangeshkar is known to have been a sympathiser of the Hindutva ideology. In fact, she was a sympathiser of the pro-Hindu Mahasabha, which is a hardcore rightist organisation. Despite that she was given various awards by governments of varying political hues only and only for her mind-boggling contribution to film music," said one of them.