?Shivaji trusted Muslims?
Chhatrapati Shivaji is the password to success from Kulaba Lok Sabha constituency in Raigad district, so the slogans and speeches by A.R. Antulay are peppered with references to the Maratha warrior king.
"My head hangs in shame when I hear the wrong interpretation of Shivaji's philosophy and action. He always talked of a 'Hindavi swaraj' and not a 'Hindu rashtra.' 'Hindavi' is an Urdu word — the language born in Lucknow and Delhi. But the perverted politicians are misusing his name. Shivaji had trusted Konkani Muslims in his army. His secular fervour inspired even Gandhi and Tilak," says Antulay during dozens of his meetings in Khopoli and Karjat where he also attacks the Shiv Sena 'for creating hatred among the people."
"Shivaji loved Muslims. The BJP and Shiv Sena should know that the Mughals hated and never trusted them (Konkan's Muslims, who are said to be among the earliest Islamic settlers in India)," Antulay says. Among a few successful Muslim politicians, Barrister saheb, as he is affectionately called (he is a bar-at-law), Antulay says, "Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other BJP leaders have handed over the country to an affluent lobby. The 'feel-good' slogan is for them and is an insult to the common man."
Some people touch his feet and many bend to the ground before him. Antulay takes a few steps towards his car and his campaign managers shove away those who cannot reach him. "This is the only problem with Antulay. He is unaware that his sycophants insult his supporters," says a shopkeeper in Kadaw village.
The 73-year-old former Maharashtra chief minister and two-time MP claims he never promised voters anything.
"But I am ashamed of the fact that women of this area go miles to bring water. I want to develop better sources of water," he says.