KOLHAPUR: NCP chief Sharad Pawar today took a potshot at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over nomination of Sambhaji Raje, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shahu Maharaj, to the Rajya Sabha.
However, Fadnavis said he had nothing to do with the nomination of Sambhaji, a social activist and face of Maratha reservation campaign, and that he is merely a "sevak" (servant) of Chhatrapati. "It's a historical fact that Chharapati (the royal title used by Maratha rulers) had appointed Peshwas (prime minister of the Maratha empire). During the rule of Peshwas, Fadnavis (a post of minister in Peshwa period) had never appointed a 'Chhatrapati'. But in this case (nomination of Sambhaji Raje to Rajya Sabha), the Peshwas have appointed a 'Chhatrapati'," Pawar said.
Barring a few exceptions, chief ministers of Maharashtra have almost always been from Maratha caste. However, Fadnavis is a Brahmin and Pawar's usage of term "Peshwai" is seen as an allusion to 'Brahmanical rule'.
Pawar's remarks came against the backdrop of the attempt by opposition parties to project the BJP-led NDA government as "Brahmin-centric" over the delay on the Maratha reservation issue. The nomination of Sambhaji has been seen as a shrewd move by the BJP to prop up a credible Maratha space.
Later in the day, Pawar was presented the 'Rajarshi Shahu Award' at a function here for his contribution to public life on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Rajarshi Shahu, a social reformer of 19th century.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally at Kagal in district, Fadnavis said, "Appointment of Sambhaji Raje as a Rajya Sabha member was done by the President and the Prime Minister. I am just a 'sevak' of Chhatrapati. My role was only that of a 'letter carrier' in the process. The President and the Prime Minister made the decision and honoured the 'gharana' of Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahumaharaj."