Updated: August 19, 2015 5:19:06 am
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may be facing a caste war with rivals in his own party and the Congress-NCP but the Maratha-Brahmin divide being created because of his caste seems unlikely to unsettle him. Fadnavis, on the other hand, is being seen as a leader who will consolidate his position through his single-minded goal of Make in Maharashtra.
The protests were over the government’s decision to give the Maharashtra Bhushan award to historian Babasaheb Purandare, considered an authority on Chhatrapati Shivaji though some of his writings were unacceptable to organisations affiliated to some Maratha /OBC community, particularly the Sambhaji Brigade.
When leaders across Congress, NCP, MNS and Shiv Sena were debating the issue, Fadnavis was reaching out to drought-hit Solapur to provide welfare schemes to “beedi workers” and farmers.
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Sources in the CMO said, “Fadnavis has pledged not to waver from his mission of Make in Maharashtra founded on inclusive growth across caste and community through aggressive socio-economic welfare schemes.”
Voices were raised against NCP for raking a non-issue when 25,000 villages are facing hardships due to drought.
A corporate leader, on the condition of anonymity, said, “I think NCP leaders got the timing wrong this time. What is the logic of raking caste politics when you have just 40 MLAs out of 288 in the assembly? You cannot replay 2004 James Liane row to consolidate Maratha and bash a CM because he is upper caste and dislodge the government.”
Another member of the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce said, “Fadnavis is CM not because of his caste or commuity. Modi and BJP chose him for his clean image and merit. Let him perform.”
According to Dalit India Chamber of Commerce & Industry chairman, Milind Kamble, “The new generation is not going to accept trivial politics which unsettles society on caste lines. The generation next wants to know about Digital India, Make in Maharashtra, and employment. They talk global issues.”Kamble said, “Why should politicians exercise their authority on history? Let it be left to historians.”
The developments exposed cracks within the BJP too. A party insider said, “Fadnavis’ appointment as chief minister is still not digestable to many within his own ministers and leaders. They would indirectly promote rivals to unsettle Fadnavis in the name of caste.”
Fadnavis is the second Brahmin chief minister in six decades, after Manohar Joshi.
Political commentator Bharatkumar Raut said, “NCP’s protest is to regain lost ground in Maharashtra politics. Those questioning Purandare have not written a single line on warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. It is unfortunate they are opposing the state award to Purandare whose contribution through works on Shivaji’s life is unparalleled.”
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