A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking the removal of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over his recent comments calling Maratha emperor Shivaji “an icon of the olden time”. It also demands an FIR against the governor and BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, who allegedly said Shivaji had “apologised” to Mughal king Aurangzeb.
The petition by a man named Deepak Dilip Jagdev demands the court should direct that “the Governor could be impeached if found guilty of treason, or any offence against the safety, security or integrity of the Union”, and also that the Governor be directed “to obtain mental fitness/mental soundness certificate from psychiatrist” till the plea is pending.
Made during an event in Aurangabad, Mr Koshyari’s comment triggered a political storm in Maharashtra, with activists of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), NCP, Congress, and other organisations staging protests for his ouster.
Mr Koshyari had said: ”Earlier, when you would be asked who is your icon, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi used to be the answers. In Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here. While Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is of olden time, there are BR Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari.”
Mr Gadkari has since made it a point to say: “Shivaji Maharaj is our god…We revere him even more than our parents.”
And Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP has said, “One thing is clear. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will remain a hero and idol of Maharashtra and our country till the sun and the moon exist.”
He added, “Even Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had no doubts about this in his mind… I feel there is no other role model than that of Shivaji Maharaj in the country.” He claimed that Sudhanshu Trivedi “never made any statement that Shivaji Maharaj has apologised”.
But the row has put the BJP in an awkward situation in its five-month-old partnership with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Sena faction as the BJP’s central government has given Mr Koshyari, a party veteran and former chief minister of Uttarakhand, the Maharashtra post.
An MLA from Chief Minister Shinde’s party, Sanjay Gaikwad, had demanded that Mr Koshyari be moved out of Maharashtra for his remarks.
The Thackeray-controlled Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ demanded an apology from the Governor. An editorial in it asked the BJP, which has been protesting against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on freedom fighter VD Savarkar, to spell out its stand on Mr Koshyari’s remarks.
“Just like Rahul Gandhi, Governor’s statement also can not be called his ‘personal opinion’. People of Maharashtra also have a ‘personal opinion’ that whoever insults Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will have to apologise in front of the state,” the editorial said.