Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who joined the coalition govt along with Ajit Pawar of the NCP, is finding himself in the midst of controversy. Speaking at a public function in his home district Nashik on Saturday, Mr Bhujbal questioned the Brahmins' love for Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chhatrapati Sambhaji. He claimed that it was precisely because of this lack of admiration for the legendary Maratha warriors that the Brahmins did not name their sons after the two icons.
In a sharp reaction, Anand Dave, secretary of the Brahman Mahasangh, asked ``why Mr Bhujbal has not named any of his children after Chhatarapati Shivaji or Sambhaji?" He accused the minister of hypocrisy.
Brahmins regarded the Chhatrapatis as Gods
He said Brahmins regarded the Chhatrapatis as Gods and it is most unfair to accuse them of not being respectful of the great leaders. Since long vested interests were trying to distort history with a view to demonise Brahmins. Mr Dave said it alleged that none of the Brahmins of Maharashtra agreed to perform the ``rajyabhishek" or coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
`"Nothing can be far from the truth. The fact is that "rajyabhikesh" that none of the local Brahmins knew the rituals that go with the coronation and hence a Brahmin, Gaga Bhatt, had to be brought from Kashi.But, it is highly significant that when Gaga Bhat conducted the rituals of coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji, he was accompanied by a thousand local Brahmins who wanted to learn the rituals. In fact, Gaga Bhatt even wrote the book explaining the rituals that go with coronation of a king," he explained.
Mr Dave said Gaga Bhatt's father originally hailed from Sambhaji Nagar and to that extent there was a local connection.
Ranjeet Natu, a Brahmin activist, observed that "We Brahmins ignore such rants by petty politicians who thrive on caste vote banks. There is no need for anyone to tell us what we are. We know what good we have done for the motherland. For us, Hindutva comes first and we all consider casteism as a stigma on Hindutva."
Maharashtra has a history of anti-Brahminism
Maharashtra has a history of anti-Brahminism which took a violent turn when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Brahmin, Naturam Godse of Pune. The homes of thousands of Brahmins were burnt and many were individually targeted. It is because of this background, relatively few Brahmins have entered politics since being Brahmin is considered a political liability.
The late Bal Thackeray ignored the allegations against Brahmins and made Manohar Joshi, as the first Brahmin chief minister of Maharashtra. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP is also a Brahmin who is often targeted because of his caste.