No Shiv Sena, but Shivaji and Marathi culture at Wankhede

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2014 11:54 IST

The Shiv Sena may be absent from the grandiose swearing-in ceremony of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis and his Cabinet at the Wankhede stadium on Friday, but its ideological idol, Chhatrapati Shivaji, will be all over the ceremony.

The theme for the evening, the decor, the backdrop, the scenes chosen for display on the extra-large LED screen and other elements of the event will not only have the Maharashtrian flavour, but also specifically invoke Chhatrapati Shivaji’s reign, whose tenure is considered as the golden period in the region’s history.

However, it serves another purpose too. By identifying itself closely and repeatedly with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the BJP is claiming its right to the legacy the Sena has so far zealously appropriated.
“Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj belongs not to a party, but to the state of Maharashtra and its people. No one should claim intellectual property rights on the great warrior,” said Vinod Tawde, senior BJP leader tipped to take oath.

In fact, this was part of the brief given to well-known art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai, who planned the stage and props accordingly. The visual approach will be that of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s era with the swearing-in event itself modelled on the king’s coronation, which is regularly enacted on the Marathi stage.

“I have blended in the ancient Shivraya’s Maharashtra with the modern Maharashtra the BJP wants to create. That was the brief given to me. Some parts of the ceremony should give the feeling of a ‘rajyabhishek’ (coronation) as Shivaji Maharaj’s was,” Desai said. He plans to use stills and sounds from Shivaji’s era on the 28-feet specially-mounted LED screen.

In addition, the Constitutional ceremony will be preceded or followed by the famous Marathi musical, “Marathi Bana”, with more than 125 artistes performing songs and ditties popular in Marathi culture to show the Marathi manoos’ life, struggle and dreams. The nine-year-old play by musician Ashok Hande is a sell-out at all its commercial performances.

Hande himself typifies the Marathi manoos, coming from a family of fruit sellers in Crawford Market, he is a celebrity in the cultural circuit. “It’s my honour that I will be at such a landmark event tomorrow,” Hande said.

Chhatrapati Shivaji‘s coronation was at the Raigad fort. The Sena leadership made sure that the Raigad link was not missed in the editorial in the party’s newspaper Saamana on Thursday. It said, “Maharashtra will be led by Vidarbha (Fadnavis’ home region)…there will be a shower of flowers and blessings from Raigad. The new chief minister should always remember this.”

The BJP had invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji in its election campaign earlier, with all campaign material of Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for votes with “Shiv Chhatrapati’s blessings”.

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