Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists on Wednesday burnt effigy of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, a day after their party president Raj Thackeray accused the Maratha strongman of indulging in "dirty politics" over the state government's decision to confer the Maharashtra Bhushan award to noted historian Babasaheb Purandare.
"I think NCP workers had burnt the effigy of Raj saheb yesterday. So today MNS workers, in return, burnt Sharad Pawar's effigy," MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar told a news agency.
The activists set the effigy afire in Central Mumbai while raising slogans against Pawar.
Another MNS leader Chetan Pednekar said that burning of the effigy was meant to convey to Pawar that he should stop playing politics over the veteran historian.
"Yesterday Raj saheb had made it very clear that protests against Babasaheb (Purandare) are happening at Pawar's behest and due to his divisive politics. Today we burnt his (Pawar's) effigy to convey to him that he should stop looking at the world with the prism of politics. Politics should be played only when and where needed," Pednekar said.
Thackeray had accused Pawar of playing the "dirty politics" over the issue because a Brahmin (Devendra Fadnavis) has become chief minister of the state.
The MNS chief had also warned of dire consequences if anybody tried to touch Purandare.
Detractors of Purandare have accused him of distorting history and tarnishing the image of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji through his writings.
State Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao will bestow upon the prestigious award to Purandare at a function in Raj Bhawan today.
Meanwhile, police took into custody women members of the outfit 'Jijau Brigade' after they tried to barge into the official residence of state education minister Vinod Tawde in south Mumbai, protesting against the government's decision to confer the award on Purandare.
NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad, who has vehemently opposed Purandare's selection for the state's top honour, said, "Today is a black day for people of Maharashtra, as the government is going ahead with honouring Purandare, despite opposition from various quarters."