MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday accused NCP president Sharad Pawar of indulging in 'dirty politics' over state government's decision to confer the prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan award on historian Babasaheb Purandare.
The award ceremony is slated to be held on August 19 at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai. "Pawar had felicitated Purandare on a few occasions. Did he not think then that what Purandare has written is not right," Raj said, addressing a press conference at his residence in central Mumbai's Dadar area.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray
Pawar had said he respects Purandare, but he (Purandare) is not a historian. "Pawar is indulging in dirty politics. Babasaheb Purandare is just an excuse for that. He is doing so because a brahmin (Devendra Fadnavis) has now become chief minister of Maharashtra," the MNS chief said.
"If anyone touches Purandare, I will create 'tandav' (havoc) in Maharashtra. Some people in BJP are also responsible for this controversy over the award to Purandare," he said.
He also criticised Jnanpith award-winning Marathi author Bhalchandra Nemade, who in a letter to chief minister, has opposed the state government's decision to confer the Maharashtra Bhushan award on Purandare, accusing him of making derogatory references about Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. "Nemade should learn how to behave after receiving the Jnanpith award," he said.
In 2004, activists of the Sambhaji Brigade vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune because it had helped American writer James Laine write a book on Shivaji, raising the same controversy over the Maratha warrior. Laine is also said to have conducted his research with Purandare's help for the book. A police case was also filed against Laine.
The Sambhaji Brigade, which represents the powerful Maratha community, accused writers like Purandare of being involved in a 'Brahmanical conspiracy' to defame Shivaji's mother Jijabai and distort history. Leader of Opposition in state Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has become the latest to join the bandwagon of those opposing Maharashtra government's decision to confer its highest award on the historian.
"The state government should reconsider its decision to honour Purandare," the senior state Congress leader said in Ahmednagar district yesterday. "Conferring the award will mean devaluing it against the backdrop of serious allegations against Purandare for distorting historical facts," Patil said.
The letter also includes signatures of a few social activists, including Vidya Bal. Nationalist Congress Party Lok Sabha member from Satara, Udayanraje Bhosle, who is a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, has said the Maharashtra government should put off the award function due to the controversy surrounding Purandare.