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Amid the Loudspeaker-Hanuman Chalisa row, Mumbai Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday claimed that attempts are being made to take the country backwards as the attention from real issues like employment are being diverted, as per news agency ANI report.

"We've been seeing in the past few days that attempts are being made to take the country backwards in the name of caste and religion. What are the basic issues of people? Inflation, food, unemployment. But nobody's paying attention to it," said Sharad Pawar at an event on Saturday in Mumbai.

Taking a jibe at politics around Hanuman Chalisa gripping Maharashtra currently, the NCP chief said, "If you switch on TV today, someone says that they'll hold a sabha and someone else demands chanting of Hanuman Chalisa. Will all these questions yield a solution to your basic issues? So, to fight this we will have to walk on the path of Shahu Maharaj, Babasaheb Ambedkar."

The comments come ahead of the deadline of May 3 given by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government to remove the loudspeakers from Mosques.

On April 13 Raj Thackeray in a rally "asked the government to act before May 3 failing which the government can face consequences." Following Thackeray's announcement, Independent Lok sabha MP Navneet Rana and her husband MLA Ravi Rana announced their plan to chant Hanuman Chalisa in front of the residence of the Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.

(With inputs from agencies)

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