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BJP booklet comparing Modi to Shivaji triggers protests in Maharashtra

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Sena, NCP, Sambhaji Brigade demand withdrawal of text, halting of publication

The depiction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “latter-day King Shivaji” in a booklet of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sparked protests across the State and demands that the party immediately withdraw it and halt further publication.

Aaj ke Shivaji, Narendra Modi, written by Jai Prakash Goyal, BJP leader and president of the United Hindu Front (an umbrella body of fringe right-wing outfits), provoked the ire of pro-Maratha outfits such as the Sambhaji Brigade. Shivendraraje Bhosale, BJP legislator from Satara and direct descendant of the Maratha warrior king, urged his party superiors to rein in “overzealous” activists like Mr. Goyal.

“No one can be mentioned in the same breath as Chhatrapati Shivaji… I’m sure Prime Minister Modi understands the feelings of the people of Maharashtra. While I don’t think that he has urged anyone to compare himself with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the publication of this booklet has given political ammunition to the opposition,” said Mr. Bhosale, speaking in Satara.

He urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to look into the affair and halt the printing of further copies of the booklet. “Unfortunately, there are overzealous activists [within the BJP] as a result of which the party leadership has to face opprobrium. I urge party seniors to rein in such activists and stop publication and distribution of the booklet,” said Mr. Bhosale, who had quit the NCP to join the BJP before the Assembly polls in October last year.

The Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) staged protests in Nashik, Kolhapur and Osmanabad, while members of the Sambhaji Brigade held a demonstration against the BJP near Lal Mahal, the legendary palace in Pune where king Shivaji lived as a child along with his mother, Rajmata Jijabai.

“If the BJP does not withdraw this booklet within a week, then the brigade will ensure that not a single BJP office is left standing in Maharashtra,” warned its leader Santosh Shinde. The outfit also demanded that Shivaji’s 13th descendant, ex-Satara MP and BJP leader Udayanraje Bhosale, spell out his stance on the issue.

Members of the brigade also burnt effigies of Mr. Goyal in Solapur, while a police complaint against the BJP leader was lodged by a Sena activist in Solapur’s Faujdar Chavadi police station.

Complaint against author

“By comparing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to Prime Minister Modi, the author has insulted the great Maratha king and hurt sentiments of all Shiv premis and Shiv bhakts across the country,” said Dinkar Jagdale, the Sena activist who lodged a complaint with the police.

Meanwhile, irate corporators and municipal councillors from the Sena staged a demonstration in Nashik by blackening posters showing Mr. Goyal releasing the booklet and then burning them.

“This booklet should not have been published in the first place…when Mr. Modi was called lord Vishnu’s “eleventh avatar”, we kept quiet. Then came yet another hyperbole likening him to Peshwa Bajirao I and the outrageous epithet of ‘Father of the Nation’. But now, likening him with king Shivaji has taken matters too far,” said a Sena leader from Nashik. The Sena further warned that they would burn copies of the booklet if found in any store across the State.

Protests were also staged by students ofFergusson College, who condemned the mindset of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and right-wing parties.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 10:40:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-booklet-comparing-modi-to-shivaji-triggers-protests-in-state/article30564871.ece

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