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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Why is NCP chief Sharad Pawar meeting Brahmin community leaders in Pune today?

NCP leaders including Pawar, Amol Mitkari and Chhagan Bhujbal have drawn the Brahmin community’s ire over recent remarks they made in connection with Chhatrapati Shivaji and on priests. At the meeting, Pawar will attempt to clear the air, party leaders said.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: May 31, 2022 12:58:09 pm
NCP chief Sharad Pawar with social activist Baba Adhav, during a book launch event at Bal Gandharva Ranga Mandir, on Friday. (Express photo by Pavan Khengre)

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has been under fire from the Brahmin community over certain comments made by him as well as other party leaders, will hold an interaction with some Brahmin organisations at the Nisarg Mangal Karyalaya in Pune on Saturday evening. Party leaders said Pawar will try to assuage the community’s “hurt sentiments” during the meeting.

The ‘objectionable’ comments

The Brahmin community, which constitutes about 2-3% of Maharashtra’s population, has been raising objections to certain recent comments made by Pawar and his party leaders. The comments which allegedly hurt the community include those like: “Swami Samarth was not the guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” and that “It was because of information provided by Babasaheb Purandare that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was defamed.”

Statements which encouraged use of Phule pagdi instead of Peshwe pagdi and the comment that Hindutva organisations had a hand in the Bhima-Koregaon violence too irked many, besides the remark: “Earlier, Chhatrapati used to appoint Peshwe… Now Peshwes are nominating a Chhatrapati.” The last straw came earlier this month after Pawar read out a poem by Jawahar Rathod where he spoke about “divine power” and the superiority of one community over God.

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Besides Sharad Pawar, NCP leaders like Amol Mitkari and Chhagan Bhujbal have also drawn the ire of the Brahmin community. At a public rally of the NCP in Kolhapur, where top party leaders were present, Mitkari took potshots at the “pujas” conducted by a Brahmin priest during marriage ceremonies, while Bhujbal made “disparaging” remarks against “purohits” saying they made money out of priesthood.

The meeting’s objective

NCP leaders said the initiative for the meeting was taken by a Brahmin organisation. “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.

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NCP leaders said since the Brahmin community seemed to be objecting to certain comments, the party thought it fit to address their grievances. “Pawar has all his life backed all communities. He has himself never made any derogatory comment against anyone. In fact, he has had several Brahmin friends since his childhood and college days. However, it must be mentioned that 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 is why the party has decided to hold the meeting,” an NCP leader said.

Citing the case of Pawar’s statement that Swami Samarth was not Chhatrapati Shivaji’s guru, an 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 had not said a word against Swami Samarth. And he will never. He has respect for one and all,” the leader said.

Brahmins to boycott

Key Brahmin organisations like the Brahaman Mahasangh and Parshuram Seva Sangh have decided to boycott Saturday’s meeting. “Whenever leaders of the NCP say objectionable things against the Brahmin community, the NCP chief never takes action 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 will boycott the meetings or interactions until Pawar and NCP leaders mend their ways. It cannot continue like this. The NCP is trying to create and widen the rift between different communities. The Brahmin community is especially hurt badly by the way it is being targetted for no rhyme or reason,” he said.

“Though 20,000 acres of land belonging to the community in Maharashtra has been usurped, Pawar has done nothing to help the community. We filed 16 police complaints against Amol Mitkari for his derogatory remarks against the community, but the NCP has ensured that the police will take no action against him,” said Vishwajit Desphande of the Parshuram Seva Sangh.

Deshpande said Pawar should ask Mitkari to apologise. “We do not want the NCP chief to apologise. He can direct his party leaders to tender an apology to the Brahmin community so that in future we can hold any interaction,” he said.

NCP firm on meeting

Though some Brahmin organisations will stay away from Pawar’s meeting, the NCP is confident that others will attend. “It is sad that a couple of organisations have decided to boycott the meeting. But we are still hoping that close to 10 organisations will attend the meeting. It will be a closed-door affair, the press will not be allowed inside,” said Kakade.

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