Updated: May 30, 2022 3:41:37 am
Maharashtra Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said that Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati’s political rise has become a threat to some in western Maharashtra, days after the Kolhapur royal family scion decided to pull out of the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra.
Sambhajiraje, whose tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP ended last month, announced on Friday his decision to withdraw from the polls after Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) refused to pledge their support to him as an Independent candidate.
Talking to the media on Sunday, Fadnavis said: “Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has been championing the cause of poor Marathas and OBCs. He has been working hard to fight for their reservation rights. As a result, in the last six years, he has established himself as the leader of Marathas and OBCs. Unfortunately, Sambhajiraje’s political assertion and identity have become a threat to some leaders and parties. And they wanted to scuttle his political prospects by creating a situation where he would not represent the state in Rajya Sabha.”
Sambhajiraje had earlier alleged that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had offered him a Rajya Sabha seat on a Shiv Sena ticket if he joined the party. “I had an offer from the Shiv Sena for the Rajya Sabha seat but they put a condition that I should first join their party. Now, this offer was unacceptable to me. I did not want to join any party…I had sought support from Sena as an independent candidate. I would like to state I have not backtracked. I have fought for my self-respect. I don’t want to compromise my self-respect,” he had said.
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However, Sambhajiraje’s father Shahu Maharaj Chhatrapati defended the ruling Sena and the NCP. He felt his son’s decision to make public his decision to contest as an Independent without ascertaining the support base from all parties was a mistake. Shahu Chhatrapati went further to state that his Sambhajiraje’s decision to float a separate political outfit Swarajya also cost him dear.
The developments exposed the differences between Sambhajiraje and his father, direct descendants of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
On this development, Fadnavis said: “Those who played politics have done great harm to the royals. They have triggered a rift between the father and son. It does not augur well for the state of Maharashtra. As the royal family is highly respected amongst all sections across class and religion.”
“I would like to set the record straight. When Sambhajiraje came to meet me, he had already declared that he would contest as an Independent.’I told him that in our party, all decisions are finalised by our central leaders. But I will convey it to them and propose our support to you as an Independent’,” Fadnavis said.
In 2016, the BJP proposed Sambhajiraje’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha seat. He was a presidential nominee.
Fadnavis further said: “The BJP never had any problem or threat from Sambhajiraje. We were always supportive. We have the highest regards for the family.”
“By now everybody knows who is feeling threatened by Sambhajiraje’s politics. It is obvious. Sambhajiraje’s popularity is adversely affecting those who wield power in western Maharashtra,” he added.
Though Fadnavis did not name any party or leader, he purportedly referred to the NCP led by Sharad Pawar. Western Maharashtra which is an economically prosperous sugar belt has always been the party’s stronghold.
The elections to six Rajya Sabha seats from the state will be held on June 10. The BJP, with its 105 MLAs, can get two candidates elected, while the Congress (44 MLAs), the NCP (54 MLAs) and the Shiv Sena (55 MLAs) have the numbers to get one candidate each elected.
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