A controversy over the shifting of the statue of Dadoji Konddeo, believed to be the mentor of Chhatrapati Shivaji, in Pune, has fomented political tensions between the Shiv Sena and the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine.
A war of words began on Thursday, after the Congress-NCP ruled Pune Municipal Corporation passed a resolution to remove the statue from a sculpture depicting Shivaji and his mother Jijamata at the monument of Lal Mahal in Pune. Objecting to this decision, the Sena called for a committee of historians to decide the issue.
By Friday, things took an aggressive turn when activists of the Sambhaji Brigade, a militant Maratha outfit alleged to have close ties with the NCP, attempted to enter the Dadoji Konddeo stadium in Thane where a Marathi literary festival was in session. They demanded renaming the stadium after Prabodhankar Thackeray.
The police detained more than a dozen activists of the outfit and “slapped sections of the Indian Penal Code sections for unlawful assembly,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Dattatray Mandlik told The Hindu .
Differences between the Sena and the NCP over the role of Dadoji Konddeo, a Brahmin, in Shivaji's life go back a long way. The NCP, which is a party of the Maratha community, sees Konddeo's portrayal as Shivaji's “teacher” an attempt by Brahmin historians to attribute a dominant role to Konddeo in the life of the Maratha King.
Slamming the resolution, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray termed it “an insult to Chhatrapati Shivaji.” He said his party would not allow the decision to be implemented.
“Who are they [Congress-NCP] to move the statue of Dadoji Konddeo? Who gave them the right to change the history of Maharashtra? People of no consequence place a demand and the corporation passes a resolution. Maharashtra will not tolerate this insult to Chhatrapati Shivaji. True history should come before the people.”
“If we start taking such decision, anything will happen in the future. Not just the Sena, even Pune citizens will not allow this decision to be implemented. Prices are rising, onions and everything else. Is the Congress trying to deflect attention from inflation?” he asked.
Mr. Thackeray called for the renaming of Aurangabad, currently named after Aurangzeb, to Sambhaji Nagar. He also demanded that the episode of Shivaji killing Afzal Khan, “which was expunged from school textbooks by a Congress Chief Minister so as not to hurt Muslim sentiments” be included again in the history syllabus.
On the 2G spectrum scam, he said, “Why is the Congress afraid of agreeing to the joint parliamentary committee probe? Let the truth be out once and for all.”
Asked about a Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee for Jaitapur, he said: “It is an important step in the andolan. The committee should understand people's sentiments and fears in an unbiased and non-partisan manner. Rehabilitation is not the only issue there. They are concerned about their future. If there is no solution to their problem, then the democratic way would be not to bring in the project.”
Mr. Thackeray called the recent raids on Suresh Kalmadi's houses “a mockery of the people” for “it is too little, too late.”