A week after triggering the ‘turban controversy’, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said his recent instruction to party cadre — to gift the headgear used by Mahatma Jyotiba Phule for felicitation of guests— was given because he was a follower of the ideology of Phule, Shahu Maharaj and Babasaheb Ambedkar.
“I consider Shahu, Phule and Ambedkar as idols… so, I instructed that the turban of the social reformer be used. There is no personal objective behind it. One should learn something from those who are considered idols. The issue of the turban was part of it. I have grown up in Pune and studied here and and I am proud of it,” Pawar said at a function organised by the Pune Municipal Corporation in Sahakarnagar. Local NCP corporator Ashwini Kadam felicitated Pawar at the event by giving him the turban of Phule.
Last Sunday, at the foundation day function of the party in Pune, the NCP chief had instructed his party cadre to gift him the turban of Mahatma Phule during the felicitation event, instead of the Puneri pagadi. The move had triggered a controversy, as the Puneri turban is linked to a particular category of society.
Pawar said, “I raised the topic of the turban recently and there was lot of discussion on it … Every person has an idol. I consider Shahu, Phule and Ambedkar as my idols. The turban of Shahu Maharaj is not available for everyone, Ambedkar never used a headgear, so I proposed the idea of using the turban of Phule. It is important for the society and nation to carry forward the values of equality, reform and science that were propagated by Phule. … It should not be interpreted that I have taken a stand against any personal or particular category of society. It is improper.”
At the event, Pawar also batted for more opportunities for women. “If girls and women are given the opportunity, they can contribute a lot towards the welfare of socially backward classes. Girls have been given entry in the New English School after 80 years, which means the city has changed. It was the prime focus of Phule to ensure education
Veteran social activist Baba Adhav, who was also present at the event, said in the wake of Pawar’s instruction, if anyone was trying to link the turban to any caste, then they were “immature”. “The thought behind the turban of Phule is important. Everyone has the right to search for the truth. If anyone claims that only they have the entire knowledge, then it is an insult to democracy. Phule did not only gift a turban, he also gave a message of equality in society. It is necessary to inculcate good values in children. The ideas of Pawar, on using the turban, are welcome,” he said.