BJP leader Prasad Lad stokes controversy by erring on Shivaji’s birthplace
Mumbai Even as the controversy over the “insult to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji” by Maharashtra governor B S Koshyari rages on, BJP MLC Prasad Lad stoked another one on Saturday with his comment that Shivaji was born in Konkan
Mumbai Even as the controversy over the “insult to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji” by Maharashtra governor B S Koshyari rages on, BJP MLC Prasad Lad stoked another one on Saturday with his comment that Shivaji was born in Konkan. The inaccurate statement has provided more fodder to the Opposition, which charged BJP leaders with trying to distort history. This could intensify the ongoing controversy over Shivaji, as the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and Shiv Sena (UBT) objected vehemently to the statement and slammed the Shinde-Fadnavis government.
Chief minister Eknath Shinde tried to downplay the issue by saying that the entire world knew Shivaji was born at Shivneri fort in Pune. “Shivaji is our ‘aradhya daivat’ (adorable deity) and he was born at Shivneri. The whole world is aware of this,” he said. However, to the BJP’s shock, Gulabrao Patil, a minister belonging to Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) in the Shinde-Fadnavis government, spoke out even after Shinde tried to defuse the situation.
“There should be a code of conduct on who can speak about Shivaji Maharaj,” Patil said. “Anyone is saying anything about him. We will not spare anyone, whichever party he belongs to.” Patil declared that he was ready to sacrifice his ministerial position if it came to that.
Following criticism, Lad apologised for his comment. “I seek pardon if anyone’s sentiments were hurt owing to my statement,” he said. “I tried to rectify the mistake soon after it occurred. However, the NCP is trying to politicise it by making it an issue.”
On Sunday, the NCP posted on its Twitter handle a video clip from an event organised by the BJP on Saturday. In the 28-second clip, Lad can be heard saying, “Hindavi Swarajya (self-rule of Hindu people) was established by Shivaji. He was born in Konkan.” When someone corrected him, saying that Shivaji was born at Shivneri Fort in Pune, Lad, after taking a pause, added, “He (King Shivaji) spent his childhood at Raigad, where he also took an oath of swarajya. This is how swarajya began from Konkan.”
The NCP slammed the BJP for using Shivaji’s name for elections when its own leaders had no clue about the history of the Maratha king. In a series of tweets, the party said that the BJP should teach history to its own legislators before presuming to teach others. “They contest elections in the name of Shivaji Maharaj but don’t know his history. It is shameful...,” declared the NCP in its tweets.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut also took the opportunity to lash out at the ruling allies in Maharashtra and the chief minister. “The entire country and world knows where Shivaji was born and was crowned. Has BJP started a new history research centre like chief minister (Eknath Shinde) who has formed a new planning commission and appointed his builder friend?” mocked Raut.