Political Battle Heats Up: Kolhapur Witnesses Clash Between Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Mandlik

Political Battle Heats Up: Kolhapur Witnesses Clash Between Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Mandlik

While Chhatrapati Shrimant Shahu Maharaj is the 12th direct descendent of the legendary Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sanjay S Mandlik is the son of the four-time (undivided) NCP MP, the late Sadashivrao D Mandlik.

IANSUpdated: Thursday, May 02, 2024, 04:56 PM IST
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Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj |

The erstwhile royal kingdom of Kolhapur is witnessing a war of political supremacy between Chhatrapati Shrimant Shahu Maharaj who is the MVA-Congress nominee for the Lok Sabha elections, and the ruling Mahayuti alliance partner Shiv Sena's MP, Professor Sanjay S Mandlik.

While Chhatrapati Shrimant Shahu Maharaj is the 12th direct descendent of the legendary Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sanjay S Mandlik is the son of the four-time (undivided) NCP MP, the late Sadashivrao D Mandlik.

In the heat and dust of the campaign for the May 7 elections, Mandlik seemed to have lost his bearings momentarily when he questioned the 'credentials' of his illustrious rival's royal lineage. Not surprisingly, Mandlik, 60, was greeted with howls of protests from all political parties and locals alike, with many demanding an apology for insulting the Chhatrapati, but the Shiv Sena nominee refused to oblige.

Here's how Chhatrapati is fighting the battle

On his part, the soft-spoken Chhatrapati, 76, popular as 'Maharaj Saheb' among his constituents, gently raked up the issue of the 'legitimacy' of Mandlik's party, the Shiv Sena- headed by CM Eknath Shinde - which was enough to rattle the ruling Mahayuti alliance. It may be recalled that in June 2022, Shinde had rebelled against the Shiv Sena founded (in 1966) by the late Balasaheb Thackeray, and in July 2023 ally NCP chief Ajit Pawar had broken up the party established by his uncle Sharad Pawar in 1999.

The two splinters, part of the Mahayuti government, were recognised as the 'real' parties this year, and the Chhatrapati's mild plea for 'a politically-stable Maharashtra' or 'fight against a totalitarian regime' or 'political reforms', etc. shook the powers-that-be. Quivering under the Chhatrapati's feather-touch salvos, Mandlik attempted to salvage the situation by claiming how he sought votes based on his work, that the people are the real 'heirs' of Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj and merely belonging to the family doesn't grant anybody the status, and the poll battle was for the dignity of the Kolhapur people.

Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati stance

Two months ago, when it became clear that Chhatrapati Shriman Shahu Maharaj would be contesting the Lok Sabha polls, his son, Yuvraj Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati quietly made a royal sacrifice and instantly opted out of the elections as he wanted to fight from the same seat.

This mark of respect to his 'revered father' went down well with the Kolhapur masses. In one of those rare situations, Kolhapur witnessed a scenario in which a distinguished candidate was available, but he had no direct party affiliations, and the MVA allies Shiv Sena (UBT) and NCP (SP) rushed to offer him a ticket.

Finally, they left it to the sagely Chhatrapati to pick the symbol he would prefer to contest on, and he chose the Congress' 'Hand' - with no heartburns among the MVA partners. Mandlik had his share of woes, but given the changed political equations after the Shiv Sena and NCP splits, the Mahayuti allies buried their differences and offered him a second chance.

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