The state today celebrates the birth anniversary of its bravest son, Chhatrapati Shivajiraje Bhosale. While political parties will stake claim to the warrior king and come forth to celebrate the occasion, the common man and even descendants of Shivaji feel the celebrations are just a show.
“The politicisation of Maharaj’s name by all parties has been going
on for many years,” said Udayanraje Bhosale, a direct descendant of the 17th century king. “Rarely do we see anyone trying to impart Shivaji’s vision or his ideals. The poor really feel for Maharaj and believe in his ideals while the so-called elite only display their ignorance.”
Bhosale has been vocal in his criticism of political parties staking claim to Shivaji’s name. “Little is being done to promote his ideals,” he said.
Ankit Mirajkar, a final-year student from Thane, said no political party or leader has the ability to uphold Shivaji’s legacy. “All these politicians and parties have their own agendas,” he said. “I don’t think their heart bleeds for the state. His struggle for Maharashtra, his fight against those who perpetuated atrocities, is not spoken of at all.”
The bahujan samaj alleges that interference by Brahmins in distorting Shivaji’s history is responsible for limiting his legacy. “The fact is that Shivaji was truly secular, he was never anti-Muslim,” said Jagdish Nagarkar of the Phule Ambedkar Vichar Manch. “Shivaji was deliberately injured and killed by Krishnaji Bhaskar, whose real surname was Kulkarni. This is never brought out before the public. The fact that the writing of history was restricted to members of one community is no surprise. Hence our youth knows only distorted history.”
The outcome of the conflict in the depiction of history is that some, like the Sambhaji Brigade, a bahujan organisation, has been demanding that history be rewritten. “Politicians fight on caste lines and believe in caste discrimination using Shivaji’s name,” said Sachin Godambe, a thinker associated with the brigade.
“Parties that have staked claim to Maharaj, like the Shiv Sena, have not let Shivaji’s real values spread to the people. We have one school of thought for Babasaheb Ambedkar, which is not the case with Shivaji Maharaj’s ideals.”
In its defence, the Shiv Sena claims that its leader, Bal Thackeray, has always upheld Shivaji’s legacy and ideals. “Balasaheb has tried to reach out to Marathis with the same ideology and the same spirit that Shivaji Maharaj displayed,” Sanjay Raut, MP and editor of the party newspaper Saamna, said. “But the sad truth is that some politicians are trying to make a mockery of Maharaj by building statues. Instead they need to take care of his forts. Maharaj always said forts are the true treasure as that is where his people lived.”
Ministers from the ruling Democratic Front government believe there is a need to celebrate Shivaji Jayanti to remind the public of his ideals. “It is not for token appreciation that we celebrate Maharaj’s jayanti. We want the public to know the ideals and values of Shivaji Maharaj,” said deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal.