Mumbai: Even when the controversy is raging over the Governor BS Koshyari’s controversial remark that Chhatrapati Shivaji is an icon of olden days, the BJP Minister Mr Mangal Prabhat Lodha on Wednesday sparked another after he compared the Chhatrapati Shivaji’s miraculous escape from Agra fort with the revolt by Eknath Shinde. ‘’Shivaji Maharaj was out of Agra, so is Shinde. As Aurangzeb had stopped Shivaji Maharaj , someone also had stopped Shinde. Shivaji Maharaj came out for Swarajya, Shinde for Maharashtra," said Lodha on the occasion of Shiv Pratap Day celebrated at the historic Pratapgad in Satara district. Mr Lodha’s comment baffled the audience. Incidentally, the Chief Minister Mr Eknath Shinde was present at the function.
Criticism from the Opposition
Mr Lodha has stoked a new controversy as the opposition has slammed him for his comment.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Mr Ajit Pawar criticised Mr Lodha’s statement saying that he spoke in the presence of the Chief Minister. ‘’Those who go on making such statements need to be controlled. After one stumbles, the other becomes wiser, but there is a competition between them. Can Shivaji Maharaj ever be compared?’’he asked.
Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray leader and former minister Mr Aaditya Thackeray lashed out at Mr Lodha saying that, ‘’Comparison of Shivaji Maharaj with those whom Maharashtra considers as traitors, whom Maharashtra considers as box government, is not an accidental but it is completely planned. This seems to be the plan of this government and the party (BJP) to put Maharashtra down."
‘’The minister has spoken today about what the Governor is talking about. All this has come before people. So do you compare Shivaji Maharaj like that? This is an insult to Shivaji Maharaj, an insult to Maharashtra. These ministers do not know the ‘’reality’’ of Mumbai, but they know the ‘’realty’’of Mumbai (Lodha is into the real estate sector). Be sure to identify exactly whose voice it is. The party (BJP) has a one-point program,’’ claimed Mr Thackeray.
The Congress Legislature Party leader and former minister Mr Balasaheb Thorat said that the Shivaji Maharaj is being insulted by the Governor, the minister and the BJP spokesperson. ‘’Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is the pride of Maharashtra. I strongly condemn the minister’s statement, he should apologise as the people will never forget,’’ he noted.
However, the Shinde camp minister Mr Uday Samant downplayed Mr Lodha's statement. ''The example given by Mangal Prabhat Lodha should not be misinterpreted. Shinde was under pressure, under tight security. He got rid of it. In other words, in the same way that the Shivaji Maharaj got rid of the Mughals, Shinde got rid of them. It should not be interpreted differently.''
Meanwhile Mr Shinde announced that all encroachments on the forts will be removed in the coming period. ‘’There will be no dearth of funds anywhere. Forts will be conserved. Shivaji Maharaj’s history inspires us. Therefore, a fort authority will be established for the conservation of these forts. The conservation of forts will be done under the proposed authority,’’ he said.
After outrage, Mr Lodha clarifies
Mr Lodha after being targeted by the opposition clarified that ‘’What the opposition will say, that is their right. But what has not happened, is going on TV or social media. Those NCP leaders who are talking, have they seen what I said? They did not see. I just gave an example. Can never compare. No one can. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is the shining sun. We are all here. So how can anyone be so foolish as to compare him, I never do that.’’
Besides, “I never make personal remarks. I never go into politics, I think that government work should be done positively. There are many problems in Maharashtra. Whenever I have two or three departments, I try to do what I can. I have not gone into politics to date and will not go in future too. Whatever happened must be stopped now,’’ he said.
‘’Making accusations is the right of the opposition party in a democracy, it is the right of everyone and we have to answer it, that's why I have come before you. I did not compare, I gave an example. In Maharashtra, the example of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is given to every child. From his birth, he is taught how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was. So what do they compare to then? It should not be politicized the way it is being politicized. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the shining sun, he should be worshipped. We should stop bringing Shivaji Maharaj into controversy for our political interests,’’ said Mr Lodha.
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