Other States

Kolhapur royal Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati to contest Rajya Sabha polls as independent 

Former BJP MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati. File photo

Former BJP MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati. File photo | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati — a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji and a royal from Kolhapur district in western Maharashtra — on May 12 said he would contest the Rajya Sabha elections as an independent.

Speaking in Pune, Mr. Sambhajiraje, an influential leader in the Maratha community, said he would float a new outfit called ‘Swarajya’ to spread the ideas of Maratha warrior king Shivaji as well as the great reformer Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur among the masses.

Stating that the outfit would be non-political as of now, Mr. Sambhajiraje, who was appointed as an MP in the Upper House under the President’s quota, said he would begin a tour of the State soon. However, he did not rule out the possibility of his outfit gradually morphing into a political one.

“I have raised a number of social issues in the past years, be it those of farmers, students, the OBC and the Maratha communities. This was recognised by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and they asked me to accept the Rajya Sabha post nominated by the President and I duly accepted it in 2016. Going by the work I have done for society during my six-year tenure as a Rajya Sabha member, I am entitled to become the RS member again and I am sure I will get support,” said Sambhajiraje.

The Kolhapur royal, who has sometimes taken a view contrary to the BJP over the Maratha quota issue, stressed that he would not contest the Rajya Sabha polls as a candidate of any political party.

‘Spoken my mind’

“I have always taken the side of society and not that of any political party. While the BJP may have thought I am taking a contrary view, I have stuck to my guns and have always spoken my mind. I urge all legislators who have seen my work to support me,” said Mr. Sambhajiraje.

The former MP has been galvanising Maratha community efforts in the wake of the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Maratha quota law in May last year. At the same time, he had emphasised that the reservation for backward classes ought not to be tinkered with to make way for the Maratha quota.

After the Supreme Court had scrapped the reservation by citing that the Maratha community did not fall in the ‘backward category’, Mr. Sambhajiraje had urged both the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra and the BJP-ruled Centre to give weightage to the Maratha quota issue.

He had urged the Maharashtra government to extend OBC benefits to the poorer sections of the Maratha community and to consider using super numerary methods of providing jobs to the youth.

To this end, he had held a number of sit-ins and a fast in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan earlier this year to ensure a quota in jobs and education for the Maratha community.

While the reservation imbroglio has yet to be resolved, Mr. Sambhajiraje had urged the government to consider the strengthening of SARTHI (Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute), give more funds to Annasaheb Patil Mahamandal, set up hostels and give scholarships to the Maratha community students besides ensuring jobs for them.

Of the 57 RS seats across India going to polls on June 10, six are from Maharashtra. Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram, NCP leader Praful Patel and Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader Sanjay Raut are among those from the State who are set to retire on July 4.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 5:27:02 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/kolhapur-royal-sambhajiraje-chhatrapati-to-contest-rajya-sabha-polls-as-independent/article65407733.ece