Anna, throw Prashant Bhushan out of your team for supporting laine book on Shivaji in SC

This is what history scholar Tawde has urged in letter to Jan Lokpal bill crusader Anna Hazare; historian says lawyer Bhushan argued against ban on controversial book by US writer and assisted in tarnishing Maratha warrior king's image.

Noted history scholar Prafulla Chandra Tawde has urged anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare to remove lawyer Prashant Bhushan from his Jan Lokpal bill team for "openly supporting" US writer James Laine's controversial book on Chhatrapati Shivaji. Tawde said by publicising Laine's book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India in the Supreme Court, Bhushan had in a way assisted Laine in tarnishing the image of Shivaji and his mother Jijabai. Bhushan, who is also a noted social activist, had appealed in the apex court for the lifting of the ban on the book.

Listen to me: History scholar Prafulla Chandra Tawde

Tawde had approached the Bombay High Court in 2004 over the issue of alleged disrespect shown towards Shivaji in Laine's book. "I have written to Anna and would also be meeting him in Ralegansiddhi to persuade him to expel Bhushan from his team for supporting Laine's writing against Shivaji Maharaj," said Tawde.

Prashant Bhushan and Anna Hazare

It has been more than 15 months since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the controversial book. Pointing to the apex court judgment (Civil Appeal No 5205/2010), Tawde said Bhushan in his argument had claimed that the book was a scholarly piece about a revered and admired historical figure of India -- Shivaji -- and since there was no deriding comment against him, banning the book would curb the fundamental right to freedom of expression in a democracy. He had also stated that there was no scurrilous matter in the book which was prejudicial to the maintenance of public tranquility and law and order, and that it was the responsibility of the government to prevent mischief- mongers from creating trouble.

Attacking the views held by Bhushan, Tawde said that the offensive writings had the potential to foment tension in many parts of the city. Tawde cited the attack on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) by a group after the release of the book. "There had also been fights between Brahmin and non-Brahmin groups in the state. Bhushan has misled the SC in his arguments," Tawde said.

Reaction from Ralegansiddhi
Suresh Pathare, PA to Anna Hazare in Ralegansiddhi, said that Tawde's allegations were a "part of his profession" and that Hazare had not yet made known his views on the matter. "We are yet to receive any letter from him (Tawde). But Hazare is still not in a position to decide on this issue as he is on a maun vrat (self-observed silence)," he said.

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