Shivaji Maharaj's birth date rocks legislature

Published: Dec 16, 2017, 15:51 IST | Dharmendra Jore

BJP and opposition members clash after legislator demands a specific day be designated for it; Congress MLA issues threat that whoever rakes up the issue will face dire consequences

The controversy over the birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj was revived yesterday when the lower house witnessed a clash between the BJP and opposition members, after a legislator demanded that a specific day be designated to celebrate it. A Congress MLA even issued a threat that whoever rakes up the issue will face dire consequences and meet with violence on the streets.

Shivaji Maharaj
Shivaji Maharaj

Currently, the state celebrates the revered king's birth anniversary twice. The government-sponsored celebrations are held on February 19, while political parties like Shiv Sena and some social organisations celebrate it as per the Hindu calendar (by tithi). Shiv Sena MLAs fuelled the fire further when they supported a BJP MLA’s demand and asked the state to celebrate Shivaji Maharaj’s birth anniversary as per the Hindu calendar.

Why twice? Asks BJP MLA
The house erupted with verbal volleys when BJP's Suresh Halvankar said that some historians have established that Shivaji Maharaj was born on April 8 (1627).

"A committee of experts that was set up by the previous BJP-Sena government had suggested that his (Shivaji Maharaj's) birth anniversary be celebrated on April 19. The committee gave its report to the Congress-NCP government that came to power in 1999. The committee did not decide the date unanimously. The then government accepted the suggestion that was suitable, but this should change now. There should be just one day," he said.

Senior NCP member Dilip Walse Patil objected and asked that the demand be expunged from the proceedings. Speaker Haribhau Bagde rejected this, saying that the member was free to express his opinion. After this, members of the opposition stormed the well and raised slogans.

"People will kill you if…"
An enraged Ajit Pawar (NCP) told the house that anything that hurts the followers of Shivaji would not be taken lightly. "People will not allow you to walk on the streets… they will kill you if you hurt the sentiments of the people who worship Shivaji Maharaj. I want this issue to end here, and instead lets focus on other issues like agrarian crisis," he said.

Following Pawar's outburst, some Congress and NCP members walked out to speak to media. The speaker moved on to other subjects on the agenda.

"They need a slap in the face"
Nitesh Rane, Congress MLA, directed his ire at Sena. "Celebrating a birth anniversary on a particular date is the government’s decision. If they want it by (tithi) the Hindu calendar, why can't they apply the same while celebrating Balasaheb Thackeray's birth anniversary, Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya's birthdays? These people need a tight slap in their faces."

Jitendra Awhad (NCP) told the media, "Halvankar's information is part of a BJP-sponsored conspiracy to create unrest in the state. The government of Maharashtra has already taken a decision and no house can challenge this now," he said.

Halvankar told media persons that he too was a Shiv Bhakt (Shivaji’s devotee) and a Maratha. "I don't fear anyone and I’m ready to take them on," he said.

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