Maratha group keen on alliance with BJP
Purshottam Khedekar, the chief of Sambhaji Brigade, said the Maratha outfit wants to have an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the future elections in the state. The statement is significant as the link between hardline Maratha group Sambhaji Brigade and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is well-known in the political circles. Khedekar, in a magazine Maratha Marg, wrote that the BJP was the “best option for alliance” at the moment.
Sambhaji Brigade, which is the branch of the Maratha Seva Sangh, has a considerable backing of the Maratha youth in Maharashtra. The alliance between the two could hurt the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in polls, as the BJP and Sambhaji Brigade could channelise Maratha community’s anger towards the MVA government.
The reservation for the Maratha community was scrapped by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Khedekar said that Sambhaji Brigade, barring some panchayat elections, hasn’t got any success. “At the moment, we can’t go solo and succeed at the state or Lok Sabha level. Besides, the Shiv Sena has allied with the Congress and NCP, so the three parties are unlikely to give us anything in seat-sharing. The NCP and Congress have held discussions [with us] in the past 25 years, but they have not given anything substantial in seats. “Looking at the political situation now, the BJP is the party which needs smaller parties, while we also need their support. So Sambhaji Brigade has adopted the idea to align with BJP, and if they are open to the idea, we can hold talks with them. So far, we have not held any discussions with anybody in the BJP,” he said.
The BJP reacted cautiously. State BJP unit chief Chandrakant Patil said that if such a proposal comes, it will be discussed in the party’s nine-member core committee. “They have expressed their wish and we will evaluate it once any concrete proposal comes before the party. We have to look at all aspects, its impact and repercussions. We are a national party, we have 12 CMs in states, so we cannot make decision in a haste,” said Patil.
The pro-Maratha outfit does not see eye-to-eye with the BJP’s ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Sambhaji Brigade has been vocal against “Brahminical dominance”. Its activists had forced the Pune civic body to remove the statue of Dadoji Konddev who was a teacher of King Shivaji, saying that Brahmin historians had distorted history.
The Sambhaji Brigade was also in controversy when it ransacked Pune-based Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) following a controversial book written by American author James Laine, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India.
Khedekar’s wife Rekha was a three-term BJP MLA from Buldhana district. She quit the BJP to join the NCP in 2013, contested the 2014 state poll the Sindhkhed-Raja in the district, but lost the election.
Khedekar defended the move to join hands with the BJP, saying there are no permanent friends of enemies in politics. He said, “There are ample of examples before us where leaders have criticised one party and later joined the same party where they became a minister. The BJP and Sambhaji Brigade are not politically untouchable for each other.”