A political row is brewing in Maharashtra over a book authored by a BJP leader, comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. While the Shiv Sena has sought a ban on the book, other parties like the Congress, NCP and MNS have also attacked the BJP over the book. The BJP has claimed that the issue is being blown out of proportion.
The book — ‘Aaj ke Shivaji: Narendra Modi’ — has been written by BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal, who was earlier associated with the Shiv Sena.
“If this book is seen in anyone’s hand, they will have to face dire consequences,” said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, seeking a withdrawal of the book.
Terming the book comparing Modi with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as “insulting”, Raut asked the Maratha king’s descendants to clarify their stand over the issue. “Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendants should clarify if they like Modi being compared to him. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendants should quit BJP over the book,” Raut said, targeting BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Sambhaji Raje, who is a descendant of the Maratha king.
Raut said the book was the handiwork of people who were looking to “appease” Modi and also asked the BJP to clarify its stand. “At least the Maharashtra BJP should clarify its stand on the issue. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj cannot be compared with anybody in this world. There is only one sun, one moon and only one Shivaji Maharaj…Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” Raut tweeted.
Sambhaji Raje has also demanded a ban on the book. “We respect Narendra Modi, who was elected as the prime minister of the country for the second time. But neither Modi nor anybody else in the world can be compared with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” he said at Sindkhed Raja in Buldhana district.
He demanded that BJP chief Amit Shah immediately ban the book, which was released in BJP’s Delhi office.
The Congress also came out against the book, with the party planning to hold a protest in Mumbai, which will be led by State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat. “The BJP, which had once come to power using the name of Chhatrapati, has started an attempt to compare Modi with Chhatrapati. This will not be tolerated in Maharashtra. The BJP needs to withdraw this book and apologise to the people of Maharashtra,” said Maharashtra state Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.
The NCP has also weighed in, calling for the book to be recalled, with NCP leader and Cabinet Minister Dhananjay Munde saying the book had hurt the feelings of people in the state. He added that those comparing themselves to Shivaji would not be forgiven.
The BJP, meanwhile, distanced itself from the book, saying the party had nothing do with its publication and it represents the author’s personal opinion. Both Centre and state party leaders on Monday swung into damage control mode by disowning the book and its writer. However, what remained unexplained was the presence of the BJP officials during the book release within the party office premises.
In a statement issued late on Monday evening, BJP National Media Co-head Dr Sanjay Mayukh said, “The BJP has nothing to do with the book. The book was neither published by the BJP nor does its author belong to the party. Therefore, there is no question of BJP playing any role in the book.”
Senior state BJP leader and former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar defended BJP, saying, “NCP leader Sharad Pawar has often been described as the ‘Janata Raja’. This is a term which came into existence to describe the great king Chhatrapati Shivaji. Why did nobody raise the question as to how Pawar could be equated to King Shivaji… All the political parties which are raising a hue and cry over a book for drawing parallel between Modi and Shivaji never raised a single question about Pawar. The political rivals are deliberately picking on every issue to target Modi and BJP”.
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