Sambhaji Brigade: Maratha protest organisers turn political party
The outfit is infamous for using strong-arm tactics, such as ransacking the Pune-based Bhandarkar Institute of Oriental Research in 2004mumbai Updated: Nov 30, 2016 16:03 IST
Riding the popular wave of Maratha morchas, Sambhaji Brigade — one of the organisers of the Maratha protests — is set to become a political party on Wednesday. The party plans to contest the zilla parishad and Brihanmumbai Municipal Council (BMC) elections.
According to Manoj Akhare, president, Sambhaji Brigade, political clout is necessary to bring about change. “We have been doing social work since the past 25 years but nothing substantial can be achieved without political power,” said Akhare.
“The people need an alternative as political parties have failed them,” he said.
The outfit, which is the youth wing of Maratha Seva Sangh — a Maratha community outfit — is infamous for using strong-arm tactics, such as ransacking the Pune-based Bhandarkar Institute of Oriental Research in 2004. It vandalised a multiplex in Kalyan while protesting against Karan Johar’s film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ as it featured Pakistani artistes.
In 2004, it destroyed precious books and historical documents in the Bhandarkar Institute of Oriental Research, in retaliation for the institute’s help to historian James Laine, who wrote Shivaji: The Hindu King in Islamic India. The outfit called the book ‘derogatory’ to Shivaji Maharaj, who it reveres.
Akhare said aggression will still remain the cornerstone of the new political party. “We will pursue the same agenda as before,” he added. He said the party would be inclusive of all, except Brahmins.
The brigade was one of the leading outfits, which organised Maratha marches across the state, in protest of the rape and minor of a minor Maratha girl in Kopardi. The community demanded reservation in government jobs and education, as well as amendments to the Atrocities Act, which they alleged was used by Dalits to harass them.
Political analysts doubt the efficacy of the new party. “The political scene is already crowded. The outfit does not have a grassroots-level organisation. It also does not have a charismatic leader to lead them in the elections,” said a leading political commentator.