Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati Monday urged BJP chief Amit Shah to put a ban on a book authored by BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal for allegedly comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
A string of protests has erupted in Maharashtra over the book, ‘Aaj ke Shivaji: Narendra Modi’, with the Shiv Sena demanding a ban on the book. On Monday, Pune City Congress also filed a complaint at Shivajinagar police station seeking action against Goyal.
“The book should be banned… Chhatrapati Shivaji cannot be equated with anybody,” Sambhajiraje, the descendant of the warrior king, told The Indian Express. “I respect Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has been elected (Prime Minister) twice and has done his bit for the nation. But no one can be equated with Chhatrapati Shivaji whose thoughts and deeds remain incomparable even centuries after his death,” he said.
Urging the BJP president to stop circulation of the book, Sambhajiraje said, “Chhatrapati Shivaji is revered by millions, cutting across religious and caste lines, in Maharashtra and beyond. He is a deity for the masses and therefore cannot be compared with anyone.”
Referring to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s demand that Sambhajiraje should give up his Rajya Sabha membership over the issue, he said, “I am appointed by the President of the country. I do not belong to any party. I will therefore not quit.”
Soon after the controversy had erupted, Raut said, “Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendant should say if they like Modi being compared to him. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendants should quit BJP over the book.”
Sambhajiraje also asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to “rein in” Raut. “We will not tolerate Raut targeting Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendants repeatedly,” he said.
When contacted, BJP leader and Shivaji descendant Udayanraje Bhosale said he needed time to react on the issue. “I will collect full information and then comment on it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state Congress said it will launch an agitation against the insult to the Maratha king.
“The BJP, which was seeking votes in the name of Chhatrapati, is now comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to him in the book ‘Aaj Ka Shivaji: Narendra Modi’… To protest against the repeated insult of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by the BJP, a statewide protest will be launched,” MPCC chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said in a press release.
Thorat also accused Modi of practising divisive politics and said the PM cannot be compared to Shivaji Maharaj at all. “Modi’s divisive and communal policies like CAA and NRC, and his autocratic nature of running the government stands no comparison with the secular approach through which Swarajya was established by the Chhatrapati Maharaj. The BJP should morally not even take the name of Shivaji Maharaj after the large-scale corruption in the Shivaji Memorial project by its government,” he said.
Pune City Congress, meanwhile, has filed a complaint with Shivajinagar police in the matter. Party spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “We have handed over a complaint to the police. Now it is up to them to act.”
Santosh Shinde, president of Sambhaji Brigade in Pune district, alleged that there was an RSS hand behind the book. “Chhatrapati Shivaji was well and truly a people’s king. There were no cases ever registered against him. He never insulted women. In fact, he always had high regard for women. There is no one in this world who is bigger than Chhatrapati Shivaji and therefore he cannot be equated with anyone,” Shinde said.
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