Reacting to the row and violence over the conferring of the Maharashtra Bhushan on noted historian Babasaheb Purandare (93), the CM said the government wasn’t scared of anybody; added that had the king been alive today, he would have meted out this treatment to people who claim to be his followers, but kicked up the controversy
Responding to criticism that he did not deserve the Maharashtra Bhushan, the state’s highest civilian honour, historian Babasaheb Purandare told his detractors yesterday albeit in a very humble manner that he had worked meticulously to research the life of revered Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji, but adopted a style different from others because he wanted a cross section of society to understand the king and his achievements.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao and Babasaheb Purandare at the ceremony yesterday. Pic/Rane Ashish
Referring to the controversy over Purandare getting the award, an aggressive Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, said that had the Maratha king been alive today, he would not have gone easy on people who claimed to be his followers but misunderstood his philosophy, and thrown them to their death off a cliff.
At a glittering function at Raj Bhavan last evening, the award was conferred on Purandare by Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao and Fadnavis. The function was held amid high security and under a shadow of threats from certain social organisations opposed to Purandare.
While the ceremony, was attended by nearly 250 dignitaries and prominent people, went off undisturbed, leaders from the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress skipped it as a mark of protest.
As reported by mid-day yesterday, the ceremony organisation faced a legal hurdle, but earlier in the day, the Bombay High Court’s bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice S B Shukre paved the way for it to be held by dismissing a PIL that challenged Purandare’s selection.
Recognising the 93-year-old veteran’s efforts in research and fine art, through which he had made King Shivaji known to the Indian and global audience, the court imposed a penalty of R10,000 on Pune-based petitioners Padmakar Kamble and Rahul Pukale for wasting the court’s valuable time.
“I have worked hard all my life, in a methodical manner. While going to the people with my work, I adopted a style which was appealing to the masses. There are some (history) books which are confined to libraries as reference material and there are books which go beyond libraries, to the homes of all.
I preferred the method which people liked most,” he said at the ceremony. Negating objections that period dramas written and produced by him were factually incorrect, he said that taking history to people through fine art needed even more research.
“You cannot just do it. It needs more effort and accuracy, and people have loved ‘Janata Raja’ (Purandare’s best-known play, which is performed in open grounds with animals, war scenes and multi-level sets) very much.”
In a touching gesture, Purandare declared to donate Rs 25 lakh, including the state award amount of Rs 10 lakh and personal contribution of Rs 15 lakh, to the Pune-based Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital for treating cancer patients. He also pledged to extend financial support to drought-affected people in Central Maharashtra.
Not scared of anyone, says CM
Fadnavis said it was a policy decision to hold the function on the lines of the Padma awards ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“We have started the practice from this year, and let me tell everybody that the government is not scared of anybody,” the CM said, responding to allegations that the function was shifted to the fortress-like Raj Bhavan in view of threats to disrupt the ceremony.
“People who claim to be Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s followers and have created a controversy out of this honour to Purandare do not understand the king’s philosophy. Had Shivaji been alive today, he would have thrown these people to their deaths off a cliff (kadelot karna, which is what they us),” the chief minister added.
‘Creating a rift’
Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde also slammed the organisations and political parties opposed to the move and accused them of playing caste politics and trying to cerate a rift between the Maratha and Brahmin communities by raking up the awards row. He said he was a Maratha and nobody should dare stop him from appreciating the selfless life of Purandare, a Brahmin.