Team Shinde MLA On Governor After Shivaji Comment Row

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Mumbai:

After three days of radio silence from Shinde Sena, an MLA from Maharashtra’s ruling Sena faction spoke up today against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji. Ship him out — was the unambiguous message from Sanjay Gaikwad to the BJP, heaping embarrassment on the ruling ally which has been caught in the political firestorm over Mr Koshyari’s remark.

“The Governor should understand that the ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj never age and he cannot be compared to any other great person in the world,” Sanjay Gaikwad said.

“I request all the central leaders of BJP that a Governor who does not know the history of this place or how it functions — there will be no benefit in keeping such a person… That’s why it is our demand that a person from the Marathi soil be made the Governor. Send Koshyari wherever you want,” said the MLA, who represents the Buldhana Assembly constituency.

He even made it clear that this issue, if not addressed, might become the nucleus of a rift between the ruling allies.

“Central seniors should take note that due to governor, differences will be created between the two parties,” read a rough translation of his tweet in Marathi.  

Chhatrapati Shivaji, the 17th Century Maratha ruler, is an emotive issue in Maharashtra and Mr Koshyari’s remark — that he is “an icon of olden days” — has incensed many.

The Congress, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress party and the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray, have been up in arms against it. Team Thackeray has been particularly vocal, taking repeated digs at the Team Shinde, which toppled Mr Thackeray’s government earlier this year with the backing of the BJP.

An editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna asked the BJP — which has been protesting against Congress’s Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Veer Savarkar — to spell out its stand on the Governor’s remarks.

“Just like Rahul Gandhi, Governor’s statement also cannot be called his ‘personal opinion’. People of Maharashtra also have a ‘personal opinion’ that whoever insults Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will have to apologize in front of the state,” the editorial said.

Key Uddhav Thackeray aide Sanjay Raut claimed the Governor has insulted Shivaji four times in one year.

“Still, the government is silent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah consider Shivaji Maharaj an idol and their national spokesperson said that Shivaji Maharaj apologised to Aurangzeb five times. Is this the BJP’s official stand? BJP should apologise to Maharashtra and remove the Governor right away,” he added.

As the controversy threatened to boil over, BJP’s Nitin Gadkari, who the Governor has named as the idol of recent times while speaking of Shivaji, ended his silence today. “Shivaji Maharaj is our god…We revere him even more than our parents,” he said in what was seen as an attempt at troubleshooting.

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