Atul Bhatkhalkar a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Mumbai’s Kandivali East constituency has been an RSS Pracharak. He has been with Bharatiya Janata Party since June 1991 and was office secretary of the Party from September 1991. For four years, he participated as the secretary and publicity representative for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Maharashtra Assembly Elections and Parliament elections.
An ordinary man with extraordinary leadership qualities and his hard work is hugely contributed to the development of the Kandivali-east and Western Express highway.
Atul Bhatkhalkar spoke to our Editor-in-Chief Dr Vaidehi Taman over the controversial statements made by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, in his interview with Loksatta’s editor Girish Kuber in their series called “Drushti ani Kon”.
Your comments on Raj Thackeray’s statements regarding the present issue?
Whatever Raj Thackeray has said, is absolutely false. In 2009 I was denied a BJP ticket which is a fact. But this misjudgment by the party was publicly stated by Late Gopinath Munde. At that time as MNS had not selected their own candidate, they offered me a ticket keeping the ‘Marathi Manoos’ spirit in mind. But since my loyalties laid with BJP and did not ever think of leaving them, I did not accept MNS’s ticket offer.”
Today you are in a senior position on the BJP panel and have created a good presence, but when Thackeray makes such statements, what is your response?
When Raj Thackeray made those allegations, BJP leaders completely ignored him as they have more faith in me than Raj Thackeray. Undeterred I continued to function with focus on my work. I sincerely supported the 2009 election and actively participated in election candidates rallies, but sadly they have not considered that. Rather I am amused that a matter which has not happened in 2009, they have raked up presently in 2021 and I question the very reasoning behind Loksatta presenting it as “Breaking News”. This surely is a sign that my political presence has increased therefore such news is definitely something more than what meets the eye.”
Why have you objected to Girish Kuber’s book?
Whatever he has stated about Sambhaji Maharaj, was factually incorrect. If you go through the timeline of Sambhaji Maharaj, he ruled for nine years in which he successfully fought against Aurangzeb for all nine years. An important point to be noted is that Aurangzeb came into Maharashtra only after Sambhaji Maharaj passed away. That is the spirit of Sambhaji Maharaj and his sacrifice as he refused to convert himself which is highly commendable. This is the legacy of Sambhaji Maharaj and if one goes through all historical records, everybody is hailed. Sambhaji Maharaj was not only a capable person but also a great ruler. He was an acclaimed Sanskrit pandit and wrote poems in Sanskrit. Thus, criticizing Sambhaji Maharaj by stating that he killed many people because he wanted to become heir to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is nothing but foolishness. It’s understood that the king’s firstborn will naturally be heir to the throne and thus to allege that to become king of “Hindu Samrajya” he has killed Taramati and others to reach the throne is trivial and absolute humbug. Rather such storytelling clearly showcases the non-academic aspect of the writer Girish Kuber and it has been witnessed many times in his writings. My only demand was to correct the narration.
Why are Girish Kuber like left-wingers so hellbent on twisting history?
Twisting the nations historical facts is their intellectual agenda. After Modi has become prime minister of our country, they could launch this intellectual war against the right-wingers and that’s why they are trying to distort history. When Atal Ji became the prime minister, suddenly all leftist raked up Swatantra Veer Savarkar’s so-called mercy petition, but ironically Savarkar himself has written about this in his book “Kala Pani”, that too before independence. Revolutionaries writing petitions to the Britishers was not a new thing and a normal process. But because of this ideological warfare which they are losing, they are trying to distort history and that is their main issue.
How will you counter Girish Kuber for these allegations?
Earlier also many writers have criticized Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj on very wrong matters, so this is just one more attempt to the list. Sambhaji is a king who sacrificed his life for Hindutva, Hindu ideology and religion. I don’t think such allegations will make any difference.
What is your move to counter allegations made by Raj Thackeray?
Kindly note, that unlike Raj Thackeray and Girish Kuber, I am a person who got elected twice by a margin of more than forty thousand votes, so these numbers speak for themselves. For me, people like Raj Thackeray and Girish Kuber have no credibility. Raj campaigned for Congress and NCP in Lok Sabha, in Assembly he campaigned for himself, thus I don’t think he has any political credibility.
What is your message to our readers on analyzing such subjects when published?
This is a deliberate attempt towards BJP and me to divert attention from real issues. Before making any allegations towards BJP, Raj Thackeray must first explain why he has not yet criticized Girish Kuber’s book? Rather Raj should not have given an interview to Girish Kuber unless he rendered an apology. If you go through the official stand of Raj Thackeray earlier regarding Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj or Maharashtra history, he should have demanded an apology from Girish Kuber. Presently neither Girish is ready to render an apology or delete that portion from his book. Silence on this matter shows the hypocrisy of Raj Thackeray.
Will this strategy or agenda affect BJP’s votes?
Such an agenda will not at all make any difference to BJP, voters are intelligent.