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Maharashtra minister compares Shinde’s rebellion against Uddhav with Shivaji’s Agra escape, sparks row

Even as the row over Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s “old idol” remark on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is yet to subside, a new controversy has erupted after state tourism minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha drew a comparison between chief minister Eknath Shinde and the Maratha ruler. During an address in the Satara district on Wednesday, Lodha compared Shinde’s rebellion against former CM Uddhav Thackeray with that of Shivaji’s confinement and eventual escape from the custody of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Opposition leaders such as Priyanka Chaturvedi and Aaditya Thackeray slammed the minister for his comments, and also attacked the state government led by Shinde’s Sena faction and the BJP.

Taking to Twitter, Sena (Uddhav) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote that Lodha’s comparison of the “bravery” of Shivaji with the “treacherously formed government” is again a “symbol of [the] BJP’s political bankruptcy”.

“Every day the deity of Maharashtra is being disrespected and the unconstitutional chief minister and deputy chief minister are silent. Have some Shame!” she wrote in Hindi.

Aaditya Thackeray, Uddhav’s son and who served as the Maharashtra tourism minister in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, also took a swipe at the current regime due to Lodha’s remarks.

“Comparing the traitors who sold faith with Chhatrapati Shiv Raya is not Hinduism, it is Maharashtra hatred! The goal of this box government is ‘Maharashtra’s gentrification’,” Aaditya’s post, roughly translated from Marathi, read.

Sena’s (Uddhav) erstwhile allies – the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress – in the MVA, also lashed out at Lodha for his remarks on Shivaji. State’s opposition leader from the NCP Ajit Pawar termed the entire episode “unfortunate and shocking”, according to reports. He also wondered how a chief minister can be equated to Shivaji.

Meanwhile, state Congress unit has demanded Lodha’s resignation.

Last month, Koshyari stirred up a controversy after he called Shivaji the “hero of olden times” who have been replaced by new heroes like BR Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari. The statement invited sharp criticisms from several Maratha outfits and the opposition camp, which has demanded the governor’s resignation.

Shinde’s faction warned Koshyari for the remarks, with Maharashtra education minister Deepak Kesarkar saying that both the CM and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis have conveyed to the governor about being cautious while speaking about the Maratha ruler. “Shivaji is our pride. The state government has taken a stand that the governor should be cautious while speaking about him so that he doesn’t get insulted,” Kesarkar said.

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