Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Friday dared the Maharashtra government to register a case against him if his remarks about the 17th century Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj amounted to “droh” or betrayal.
Pawar, the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, has been facing criticism after he stated that Sambhaji Maharaj was
Swarajya-rakshak' or protector of the independent state carved out by his father, Shivaji Maharaj, and notDharmaveer’ (religious warrior) as described by some right-wing Hindu groups.
On Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had said that to say that Sambhaji Maharaj was not `Dharmaveer’ amounted to betrayal (“droh”) of his thoughts and injustice to him.
Asked about Fadnavis’s statement, Pawar, a former deputy CM, said the BJP leader can say whatever he wants to say.
“They are in power. If you find any betrayal, then register an offense. See if it makes out a legal case. Betrayal of the thoughts espoused by the Chhatrapatis (Shivaji Maharaj and his descendants) is not possible till there is last breath in our bodies. Our ten generations would not betray their thoughts,” Pawar said. The NCP leader also said that he did not insist that everyone agree with his opinions.
“What offense have I committed that they are asking for apology?” Pawar asked.
No one is talking about the objectionable remarks made by the Governor (Bhagat Singh Koshyari), ministers and MLAs from the ruling party (the BJP) about Shivaji Maharaj, he further said. NCP workers, meanwhile, welcomed Pawar after he arrived at Baramati Hostel here. Many of them sported stickers on their motorcycles which referred to Sambhaji Maharaj as ‘Swarajya-rakshak’.
Sambhaji Maharaj, the second Chhatrapati (sovereign ruler) of the Maratha state, ruled from 1681 to 1689 till he was captured and executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.