|The State Cabinet decision to set aside ₹300 crore for Shivsrushti, a memorial in Pune to warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji depicting important moments in his life, has come under attack from a section of historians and Opposition leaders. They are objecting to the project being executed by nonagenarian Marathi theatre personality Babasaheb Purandare, who, they claim, has insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji by distorting historical facts connected to him.|
At a press conference on Tuesday, historian Shrimant Kokate and NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad demanded the government consitute a committee of historians and researchers to design Shivsrushti. Mr. Kokate said, “The State government is giving ₹300 crore to a private individual for Shivsrishti. For years, this man has distorted Shivaji’s history, and has also defamed his mother Jijau.”
The remark was an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding American scholar James Lane’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. Maratha organisations had accused Mr. Purandare for aiding Mr. Lane in researching for the book.
Mr. Awhad and Maratha organisations had opposed the BJP-led State government’s decision to confer the Maharashtra Bhushan on Mr. Purandare.
Mr. Awhad said, “We won’t let work on this Shivsrushti go ahead. Someone who has distorted history can’t be entrusted with setting up the memorial to Shivaji Maharaj.”
He demanded a probe into money and land collected by Mr. Purandare for the project. “He has been collecting money since 1976. He has taken land as well. We allowed him to receive the Maharashtra Bhushan, but won’t let him take the ₹300 crore for the project. I don’t know if my party opposes the government’s decision too; I’m taking a stand as a follower of Chhatrapati Shivaji”
A delegation opposing the Cabinet decision will submit a written protest to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao.