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Sambhaji Chhatrapati out of RS poll race: Sanjay Raut meets Kolhapur royal family scion

Former Rajya Sabha MP and Maratha leader Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje

Former Rajya Sabha MP and Maratha leader Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje | Photo Credit: PTI

After Kolhapur royal Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, pulled out of the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls decrying the “betrayal” by the ruling Shiv Sena, Sena MP Sanjay Raut called upon his father, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, in Kolhapur.

While Mr. Sambhajiraje, an important Maratha community leader, had accused Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of “breaking his word” by failing to support his candidature, his father Chhatrapati Shahu contradicted his son by remarking that he ought to have met all leaders of the ruling tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) if he had wanted to contest for the Rajya Sabha election as an independent.

Mr. Shahu Maharaj had further admonished his son by remarking that if Mr. Sambhajiraje was confident of his win, then he should not have announced that he was floating a new political outfit (to be called ‘Swarajya’).

Speaking in Kolhapur after his brief meeting with the 74-year-old Mr. Shahu Maharaj (also known as ‘Shahu II’), Mr. Raut said that since he was in the district, Mr. Thackeray told instructed him to call on the royal.

“CM Thackeray spoke to Shahu Maharaj on phone and said he would soon meet him in person in Kolhapur. My meeting was personal and no politics was discussed,” Mr. Raut said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Sambhajiraje had announced his decision to contest the Rajya Sabha election as an independent after his term as a President-nominated Rajya Sabha member ended. The former BJP MP had appealed to all parties to back him, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar being the first to announce his support for him.

However, the Shiv Sena soon staked claim for the sixth RS seat in the State, undercutting Mr. Sambhajiraje’s chances. While the Kolhapur royal later held parleys with Mr. Thackeray and expressed confidence that the Chief Minister would support him, he remained adamant on contesting as an independent while the Sena remained firm that the royal had to contest as a Sena candidate.

Following this, the Sena snubbed Mr. Sambjaraje and fielded its Kolhapur district president Sanjay Pawar.

This has led to resentment among certain Maratha outfits, which support Mr. Sambhajiraje given the latter’s efforts in galvanising the community after the Supreme Court scrapped the Maratha quota law.

According to observers, Mr. Raut’s visit is meant to the Chhatrapati household is an attempt to pacify the seething ire of these sections within the Maratha community, who are upset at the Sena’s not fielding Mr. Sambhajiraje.

Meanwhile, BJP Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis accused the Sena and the NCP of trying to create schisms within the royal family.

“Those who played politics have done great harm to the royals. They have triggered a rift between the father and son. It does not augur well for the State of Maharashtra. As the royal family is highly respected amongst all sections, across class and religion,” Mr. Fadnavis. said

Remarking that “some crooked minds” had “penned a script” for Mr. Sambhajiraje’s failure, Mr. Fadnavis further said: “The BJP never had any problem or threat from Sambhajiraje. We were always supportive. We have the highest regards for the family.”

He further hinted that the Sena, and especially the NCP, was being threatened by Sambhjairaje’s politics and his popularity.

“Everybody knows who [read the NCP] is feeling threatened by Sambhajiraje’s politics. It is obvious. Sambhajiraje’s popularity is adversely affecting those who wield power in western Maharashtra… he has been championing the cause of poor Marathas and OBCs and working hard to fight for their reservation. As a result, in the last six years, he has established himself as the leader of Marathas and OBCs,” he added.

Both the Sena and the BJP attempted outdo each other in statements expressing their respect for Maharashtra’s royal family while simultaneously trading barbs with each other.

Mr. Raut rubbished Mr. Fadnavis’ idea of a script being prepared for Mr. Sambjairaje’s downfall, stating that such remarks were an insult to the royal family.

“The Sena has never attacked from behind…we are always above board. We had offered Sambhajiraje the candidature provided he contested from the Sena. In fact, his father’s [Mr. Shahu] statements have completely taken the wind out of the BJP’s sails,” Mr. Raut said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2022 12:31:39 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sambhaji-chhatrapati-out-of-rs-poll-race-sanjay-raut-meets-kolhapur-royal-family-scion/article65472955.ece