Mumbai: Days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Shiv Sena said on Wednesday the Maratha king never played "politics of riots".
Speaking at a function to launch the book 'Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Aur Musalman', senior Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the characteristics of the 17th century Maratha king were in contrast to what was being projected by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The book is written by senior journalist and author Janab Saeed Hameed.
"Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently likened PM Modi to Shivaji Maharaj. However, he is forgetting that Chhatrapati Shivaji never played the politics of riots," Raut said.
Later speaking to reporters, the Sena leader took a jibe at the BJP over the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal. "Everybody is eager to know how did the cost of the fighter jets escalate by three times of its original price after the contract was awarded to a company with no experience in the defence sector. A sudden blast (statement by former French president Francois Hollande) was also surprising," he said.
The Congress has launched an offensive against the BJP government over the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and violation of rules by the prime minister. The controversy took a turn last week after Hollande claimed that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence's name as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation.
Raut praised the participation of Muslims in the country's freedom struggle. "Even Chhatrapati Shivaji had assigned key positions to members of the Muslim community in his Army," he said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik, who was also present at the event, said Raut had gone a step ahead and taken a "secular position" in favour of Muslims after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) gave a new definition to 'Hindu Rashtra'. He was apparently referring to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's recent statement that 'Hindu Rashtra' did not mean it had no place for Muslims as the concept was inclusive of all faiths and religions.
"In that case, is the Sena ready to distance itself from the ideology of (Hindutva ideologue) V D Savarkar who had criticised the ideology of Shivaji Maharaj? The Sena can sail in only one boat," Malik said. The wars fought under the rule of Shivaji Maharaj were political in nature and not on religious lines, he said.
"The man who gave him (Shivaji) tiger claws during his meeting with Afzal Khan was a Muslim and the first man who attacked him was a Hindu accompanying Afzal Khan," the NCP leader said referring to the Battle of Pratapgad in 1659 in which Khan, commander of Adilshahi forces, was killed.
NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad said Shivaji was a king of masses who fought against atrocities. "He (Shivaji) never played the politics of dividing people in the name of caste and religion," he said.