Even the ruling BJP disapproved of the governor’s remarks. As the controversy raged, almost every political party in Maharashtra lapped it up to draw political mileage. This wasn’t the first controversy involving the 17th century king, nor is it going to be the last. The significance of Shivaji and many things associated with his name makes him the most exploited icon in Maharashtra’s politics for more than five decades. For political parties, Shivaji is not just a political constituency, but his name is a currency that allows politicians to reach out to Marathas who account for 33 % of Maharashtra’s overall population.
Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari made several controversial statements and this time he cam under attack because it was humiliation to Shivaji Maharaj. Koshyari referred to Shivaji as a “hero of the past era” while hailing Dr BR Ambedkar and union minister Nitin Gadkari as “present heroes”. A fresh controversy was erupted in Maharashtra. The state’s governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi are under fire over their remarks on the Maratha warrior king. His comments triggered a political storm in Maharashtra with activists of the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), and other outfits staging protests against the remarks deemed as an “insult” to the 17th century Maratha warrior king and also the state, and called for Koshyari’s ouster from the Raj Bhavan.
It’s for the same reason that most political parties including Shiv Sena, BJP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have on occasions tried to appropriate Shivaji’s legacy, something that the warrior king’s own descendants are not indifferent to as they too dabble in politics. Like political establishments, historians and the bodies they are affiliated with have also behaved opportunistically by selectively projecting Shivaji’s history. This was evident when the Maharashtra government conferred the Maharashtra Bhooshan award on Babasaheb Purandare, a Brahmin author who created a larger than life image of Shivaji, as he faced opposition from Brigade and other Maratha historians like Srimant Kokate.
Earlier also Koshyari, during a programme in Aurangabad, underlined the role of the guru (teacher) while speaking about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chandragupta Maurya. The Governor’s remarks on the Maratha warrior king have attracted criticism from the political parties and various organizations asking him to offer an apology and asking the Centre to recall him. Also, the activists of Congress, NCP and various organizations such as Sambhaji Brigade, Maratha Mahasangh and others held protests in various parts of the state to condemn Koshyari’s remarks and sought his resignation.
Shivaji Maharaj and Samarath Ramdas were contemporary; there are no records or texts that show that they ever met. Shivaji Maharaj has given donations to the temples of the Samartha Ramdas. Many debates and discussions have taken place in the past on this particular issue. The issue about the supremacy of brahmins over non-brahmins has been going on for centuries. Ramdas Swami was falsely portrayed as the Guru of Great Shivaji Maharaj which he never was! He initiated his works of Ramdasi in 1649, while Shivaji Maharaj had conquered the first fort in 1645, 4 years before his arrival! Even those who claim him as teacher of Shivaji the king, claim that they had their first meeting in 1671 at the coronation of Shivaji as Chhatrapati, that’s just 9 years before the death of Shivaji Maharaj! How could he be the influential or inspiration for Shivaji Maharaj for the formation of his kingdom?
For any Marathi or rather Indian Shivaji Maharaj should stand as a source of inspiration. The entire history of Maharaj presents us the guide to build an ideal nation. If it was not for Shivaji Maharaj, we Indians would only have the stories of defeats and humiliation of the good three centuries of history.
Maharashtra is “Obsessed” with Shivaji for the simple reason that without Shivaji the entire India might have become Muslim today. So what you call “Obsession” is actually a true and justified recognition of the historic and unique greatness of an authentic, proud and heroic Hindu Indian who represents the best of the Indian spirit and tradition.