Book comparing PM Modi with Shivaji withdrawn after uproar

Union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said Jai Bhagwan Goyal has apologised and withdrawn his book.
Jai Bhagwan Goyal at the book launch.(@JaiBhagwanGoyal)
Jai Bhagwan Goyal at the book launch.(@JaiBhagwanGoyal)
Updated on Jan 14, 2020 05:42 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By HT Correspondents, Mumbai

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday announced withdrawal of the book — written by one of its functionaries — which compared PM Narendra Modi to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The move came after an uproar by the state’s ruling parties, Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said Jai Bhagwan Goyal has apologised and withdrawn his book. “Shivaji Maharaj is the world’s greatest warrior and a legendary king who has worked tirelessly for the people. He inspires people even today. We have always regarded him as incomparable. Goyal has written the book, but it has nothing to do with the BJP. It wasn’t a party project and after we also expressed our displeasure, he has apologised and has withdrawn the book. I think the controversy should rest,” Javadekar said.

Earlier, the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena had stepped up pressure on the BJP.

Congress said it would stage protests across Maharashtra on Tuesday, while the NCP has demanded immediate withdrawal of the book written by Goyal, a former Sena activist in Delhi. The book titled “Aaj Ke Shivaji - Narendra Modi” was released on Sunday.

“Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is known to establish Swarajya by taking with him people from all castes and communities. He cannot be compared to Narendra Modi whose divisive policies like CAA, NRC are causing communal tensions. Maharaj is our revered deity and a source of inspiration for Maharashtra. We cannot tolerate the insult to Maharaj. The BJP should immediately withdraw the book and take action against the author,” said Balasaheb Thorat, Maharashtra Congress chief.

Senior NCP leader and minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the BJP sought votes in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtra and is now comparing him to Modi.

Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said the BJP should ban the distribution of the book and should officially announce that it has no links to the book’s publication.

The book was released at the BJP office in Delhi and faced strong criticism from many quarters. Protests have been held at many places by several organisations in the state on Monday.

“Modi supporters have been comparing him with Lord Ram and Lord Shiva, but now they have compared him with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji Maharaj brought peoples’ rule, whereas what the Modi government says is being considered the rule,” Bhujbal said.

“Shivaji Maharaj has always fought against injustice being meted out by those sitting in Delhi. He took everyone along. In his army, around 13 to 14 commanders were Muslims. After declaring Raigad as the capital, Jijamata (Shivaji’s mother) and Maharaj had a conversation that they have Mandirs, but don’t have a Masjid for Muslims in the vicinity, and then constructed one. In contrast, it is evident from the way Modi and his people are working, the legislations they are bringing in, that they are working against a particular community,” he added, demanding a ban on the book.

Raut said. “The book is an insult to the Maratha King and the people of Maharashtra. Shivaji Maharaj cannot be compared with anyone. It should be banned.”

The Sena leader asked Udayanraje Bhosale and Shivendraraje Bhosale, the descendants of Shivaji, who are in the BJP, to resign over the issue. “The descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who are occupying the seat of Satara and Kolhapur, are in the BJP. Some are MPs, some are MLAs and some are former MLAs. We asked them to take a stand on the comparison of Maharaj with political leaders. What’s wrong in that?” Raut asked.

“We common people are fighting for the respect of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and we will do so. But you are descendants of Shivaji Maharaj and the biggest responsibility falls on you. You should have immediately resigned,” he said.

Meanwhile, Goyal said he too has the right of freedom of speech and expression and accordingly, he wrote what he felt. “Shivaji Maharaj brought the rule of the people and I believe the same is being implemented by the Prime Minister. He is working for everyone, irrespective of their religion. This is what I have written in the book. It has nothing to do with the BJP, but if my party wants, I am ready to make changes in it. I have gifted the book to Shyam Jaju, national vice-president, requesting him to read the book,” Goyal said.

Goyal also said the Sena has left core Hindutva values for power. “I was in Sena for 20 years and was chief of the party’s north India unit. I was the first person in the country who was arrested for the demolition of Babri Masjid, but Shiv Sena has now become Sonia Sena,” he alleged.

Reacting to the controversy, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that no one can be compared with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and PM Modi too will not do this, but that opposition parties are making a controversy out of nothing. “Some people use a simile ‘Jaanta Raja’ (the wise king) for NCP chief Sharad Pawar, which is also being used for Shivaji Maharaj, but no one has objected. Similarly, after war with Bangladesh, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was compared with Goddess Durga. It doesn’t mean that Indira Gandhi was her incarnation,” Mungantiwar said.

Congress’s state-wide protest will see party’s key leaders participating in the protest. The party leaders will hold the protest at Tilak Bhavan in Dadar at 11am. “All the district units of the party have been directed to stage the protest at the district level. Besides office bearers at the district level, ministers and legislators too have been directed to participate in the protest,” another Congress leader said.

The city unit of the party staged a protest at Azad Maidan on Monday. The party workers also burnt the effigy of the author. Mumbai Congress chief Eknath Gaikwad said that they will not allow copies of the book to be sold in the market.

Meanwhile, the Sakal Maratha Samaj in Thane has written a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, demanding a stop on the circulation of the book. A few members of the organisation also staged a protest at Talaopali on Monday.

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