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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday met representatives of some Brahmin organisations in Pune to assuage the “hurt sentiments” of the community. While two key Brahmin organisations boycotted the meeting, those who attended it said Pawar has promised to take action against those party leaders who have made objectionable remarks against the community.
“The meeting was cordial. There was extensive discussion on our demands with the NCP chief. We asked him to ensure that NCP leaders who make targetted speeches are reined in. Pawar saheb told us that those who made casteist remarks do not have the party’s support and such leaders will be warned,” said Govind Kulkarni, who heads the Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh.
“He made it clear that the meeting had no political purpose and it had nothing to do with politics,” said Pandit Vasant Gadgil, vice-chancellor of the Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gadgil said,”We are satisfief with today’s meeting. Pawar showed large-heartedness in meeting the community members to assuage their hurt sentiments. This meeting will go a long way in removing the bitterness that prevails among Brahmin community in the wake of the derogatory remarks by some NCP leaders…”.
NCP’s Pune district chief Pradeep Garatkar said, “There is some anger against some NCP leaders, which is reflected in the media and on social media… The Brahmin community is agitated over the comments…. It is the duty of every leader to ease the tension and therefore, I had urged our leader to hold such an interactive session to remove misunderstandings…”.
“While a few organisations stayed away, all those present were given time to express their views. Our party chief heard them patiently…the objective behind this was to ease the tension… it was not a political meeting but a social meeting,” he added.
The Brahmin community, which constitutes about 2-3 per cent of the state’s population, has been raising objections to some comments made by Pawar and his party leaders in recent times. According to members of the community, they have taken offence to some of Pawar’s comments like “Swami Samarth was not the guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” and “It was because of information provided by Babasaheb Purandare that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was defamed”, among others.
NCP leaders like Amol Mitkari and Chhagan Bhujbal have also drawn the ire of the Brahmin community. At a public rally in Kolhapur, where top party leaders were also present, Mitkari allegedly took potshots at the pujas conducted by Brahmin priests during marriage ceremonies, while Bhujbal made allegedly disparaging remarks against priests.
NCP leaders said a Brahmin organisation had taken the initiative for the meeting. “The organisation wanted to meet our party chief and raise certain points…Our party chief then suggested that instead of meeting one organisation, he would meet several of those from Pune,” said NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade.
“… Pawar has expressed his views on certain acts and comments of individuals but never against the community. All his comments are based on facts and evidence. That’s why the party decided to hold a meeting…” said a NCP leader.
Citing Pawar’s statement — that Swami Samarth Ramdas was not the guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj — a NCP leader said,”This is again based on the judgment of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, which had clearly stated that there was no material to show that the two had ever met. At the same time, Pawar has not said a word against Swami Samarth Ramdas and he never will. He has respect for one and all.”
However, some key Brahmin organisations, such as the Brahaman Mahasangh and Parshuram Seva Sangh, boycotted the meeting. “Whenever leaders of NCP say objectionabale things against the Brahmin community, the NCP chief never takes actions against them or asks them to apologise. If he does not want to listen to us, then why should we meet him,” asked Anand Dave, who heads the Brahman Mahasangh.
“… We filed 16 police complaints against Amol Mitkari for his derogatory remarks against the community, but the NCP has ensured that police take no action against him,” said Vishwajit Desphande of the Parshuram Seva Sangh.
BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also took a jibe at Pawar over the meeting. “It is good that after a long time Pawar has remembered the Brahmin community…”, he said.
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