NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said the image of Swami Ramdas as the teacher of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji was foisted upon those who had monopoly over the pen. The reference is a dog whistle directed against Brahmins, with Maratha groups in the past having questioned the projection of Brahmins, like Samarth Ramdas Swami and Dadoji Konddev, as mentors of Shivaji.
In the backdrop of a simmering controversy over a book where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been compared to Chhatrapati Shivaji, BJP leader Udayanraje Bhosale, a descendant of the Maratha warrior, had on Tuesday questioned why the NCP president was referred to as ‘Jaanta Raja’ (enlightened king) by his supporters, when the term is also used to refer to Shivaji.
“I have never asked people to call me ‘Jaanta Raja’. If you read history carefully, you will realise that the honorific ‘Chhatrapati’ was used for the Maratha king. ‘Jaanta Raja’ was a term coined by Ramdas. Those who claim that Ramdas was his guru are lying. He was not the guru. The persona of Shivaji Maharaj was formed by his mother Jijabai,” Pawar told a gathering at Padal in Satara district.
“If you study history in an unbiased way, you will realise Ramdas was not present during Shivaji Maharaj’s era. Certain people, who at that time had monopoly over the pen, created a perception that Ramdas formed the persona of Shivaji Maharaj and this is something we all started believing in,” the NCP chief added.
The book ‘Aaj ke Shivaji: Narendra Modi’, by BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal, has triggered a political storm in the state, with Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena taking serious objection over Modi being compared to Shivaji. As a result, BJP, both at the Centre and the state, has distanced itself from the writer and the book.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also reacted to Bhosale’s statement questioning the Sena for using Shivaji Maharaj’s name for the party. No one had monopoly on Shivaji, Raut retorted while asking Bhosale to show proof of his lineage associating him with the Maratha king.
The BJP, meanwhile, has also criticised Raut. “Power seems to have gone to Sena leaders’ heads after coming to power (in Maharashtra). Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray needs to take action against Raut for his statement,” state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said.