Sycophancy in Action: Comparing Narendra Modi to Shivaji

Ram Puniyani
January 22,2020

Shivaji is a great icon in Maharashtra. Different sections of society have given him very high status, though for diverse reasons. Folklores about him abound in the state. His statues, popular songs on him are very prevalent. These folk songs (Powadas) praise his multifarious actions. So it was no surprise that when Jayabhagwan Goyal, released his book, ‘Aaj ka Shivaji: Narendra Modi’, at religious-cultural meet organized by Delhi BJP, there was a strong resentment in Maharashtra. Various leaders from Maharashtra were furious. The Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut challenged the Shivaji’s descendent, Sambhaji Raje who is in BJP and is member of Rajya Sabha, to resign on the issue. Sambhaji Raje in turn stated that "We respect Narendra Modi, who was elected as the prime minister of the country for the second time. But neither (Narendra) Modi nor anybody else in the world can be compared with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,"

Not to be left behind Jitendra Awhad of NCP felt Modi-BJP are insulting the pride of Maharashtra. It is not the first time that controversy is erupting around the Maharashtra warrior of medieval period. Earlier we had seen Sambhaji Brigrade demanding the ban on James Laine book, Shivaji: ‘A Hindu King in an Islamic Kingdom’, for its objectionable content. Bhandarkar Institute in Pune, which had helped James Laine in his research, was also vandalized. At another level there was a talk that Babasaheb Purandare, a Brahmin, who has written some popular material on Shivaji will be made as the Chairman of the committee for statue of Shivaji. Maratha Mahasangh and Shiv Dharm officials objected to a Brahmin heading the committee for a statue for the Maratha warrior. The caste angel in Shivaji’s case is coming to the fore from quite some time.

While there is no dearth of controversies around Shivaji, it is also true that each political tendency has created Shivaji’s image from their political point of view. Who was the real Shivaji, is the question. One can see two clear streams of projection in this matter. On one hand there is an attempt to present Shivaji as the anti Muslim King, a king who was respecting Cows and Brahmins (Go Brahman pratipalak). This view was brought forward from the times of Lokmanya Tilak and picked up by Hindu nationalists, who have been looking for icons in history to suit their political agenda. Nathram Godse, while criticizing Gandhi says that Gandhi’s nationalism was dwarf in front of the one of Shivaji or Rana Pratap.

In tune with this the Hindu nationalists are promoting both these as icons of Hindu nationalism and giving anti-Muslim slant to the whole discourse. This discourse also hides in this the Brahmanical agenda of Hindu nationalism as Cows and Brahmins are presented as the central object of veneration by Shivaji. This image of Shivaji fits well into the current agenda of Hindu nationalists, being spearheaded by RSS Combine.

It is because of this that for seeking votes in Mumbai Narendra Modi on the eve of 2014 elections stated that Shivaji attacked Surat to plunder the treasury of Aurangzeb. This also presents Shivaji-Aurangzeb, Shivaji-Afzal Khan interactions as battle between Hindus and Muslims. The truth is that Surat was plundered for its wealth as it was a rich port city and Bal Samant’s book on the topic gives in depth description of the same. It is noteworthy that Shivaji began his real career of conquest in 1656 when he conquered Javli from the Maratha Chief Chandra Rao More. He took over the treasures of this kingdom. That it was not a Hindu Muslim battle becomes clear when we know that in confrontation with Aurangzeb it was Mirza Raja Jaisingh who was negotiating and engaging with Shivaji on behalf of Aurangzeb. And Shivaji had Muslim officers like Kazi Haider as confidential secretary and many Muslim Generals in his army.

Darya Sarang was chief of armor division, Daulat Khan was in-charge of his naval division; Ibrahim Khan was another general of significance in his army.  This mixed up administration just shows that the kings were not having Hindu or Muslim administration depending on their religion. In the confrontation between Shivaji and Afzal Khan, Rustam-e-Jaman was Shivaji’s side and Afzal Khan had Krisnaji Bhaskar Kulkarni on his side.

As far as Shivaji’s popularity is concerned it was due to his being a King with welfare of his subjects in his mind. He lightened the burden of taxation on the average peasants, and reduced the domination of landlords over the serfs. This picture of Shivaji is well documents in the booklets by Com. Govind Pansare (Who was Shivaji) and Jayant Gadkari (Shivaji: Ek Lok Kalyankari Raja- Shivaji: King doing People’s Welfare). He did not belong to the warrior caste so Brahmins had refused to coronate him, for which purpose Gaga Bhatt a Brahmin from Kashi was brought in with heavy fees. Teesta Setalvad’s hand book on History for teachers underlined this fact.

Today while BJP-Brahmanical forces want to present Shivaji as worshipper of Brahmins and cows, the non upper caste have seen through the game. As such it was Jotirao Phule who brought forward the caste angel of Shivaji as he wrote Powada (Poem) in his honor and today dalit Bahujan are not toeing Hindu Nationalist projection on the issue.

The likes of Jayabhagwan Goyal of BJP as such are trying to give two messages through such attempts. One hand they want to paint Shivaji in anti Muslim and Brahmanical color, they also want to give the subtle message of similarity of this presentation of Shivaji with what Modi is doing. Non BJP forces have seen this game and want to present the other picture of Shivaji, which was highlighted by the likes of Jotirao Phule and which today many of those standing for rights of dalit-Bahujan are trying to articulate. The criticism of the said, book, since withdrawn is on these twin aspects. One about the picture of Shivaji who was concerned about welfare of the farmers, and two his respect for people of all religions.

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Udupi lifts ban on movement of vehicles, people in Kerala border

News Network
July 22,2020

Udupi, Jul 22: Deputy Commissioner G Jagadeesh on Wednesday announced lifting of ban on movement of people and vehicles with immediate effect in the borders of Kerala which was banned during lockdown.

The announcement comes hours after Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced that lockdown in Bengaluru and other parts of the state will not be extended any further, suggesting people should wear masks and maintain physical distancing strictly.

Mr Jagadeesh noted that although the seal down of the borders of the district would be lifted, checkposts on the border would be set up and urged people to enter the district only in case of emergency.

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KKMA Dream House project: Two more houses handed over in Puttur taluk ahead of Eid

coastaldigest.com news network
July 30,2020

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Mangaluru, July 30: Under the KKMA Dream House (Home for Homeless) project, the Karnataka Branch of Kuwait Kerala Muslim Association built two new houses at Nelyadi in Puttur taluk (house # 12 & 13) and handed over the keys on 29th July 2020 to the two widows as an Eid al-Adha gift for them.

Mr. S.M. Basha, president of Sea Food Buyers Association, Mangaluru, Mr. Sajid A.K, president of Highland Islamic Forum (HIF), Mangaluru, Mr. S.M. Farooq, president of KKMA Karnataka State Committee and Mr. Abubakker Thumbay, Vice President of Karnataka Branch Religious Affairs graced the occasion as Chief Guests.

Mr. S.M. Basha along with other dignitaries handed over the House # 12 key to a widow with three daughters at Bail house in Nelyadi and Mr. Sajid A.K. handed over the House # 13 key to another widow with two children at Alampadi in Nelyadi. 

Ustaad Haneef Saqafi, Qateeb Badriya Juma Masjid Nelyadi, Advocate Ismail, Ex-President and present committee member, Abdul Qader, Secretary of Jamaat, Taj Umar, Treasurer of Jamath, City Abbu, Ex-President of Jamath were present.  Ustaad Haneef Saqafi did the dua prayers. Mr. Abdul Rehman,  Contractor of the two houses was also present.

Kuwait Kerala Muslim Association being a leading Social Service Organization is an Extrordinary organization of ordinary people has successfully implemented several social development projects in Kerala and Karnataka states. KKMA Karnataka branch has previously handed over 11 houses for homeless at different places in Dakshina Kannada District.

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12 districts of Karnataka affected by flood; losses estimated at Rs 4,000-cr

coastaldigest.com news network
August 10,2020

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Bengaluru, Aug 10: R Ashoka, Revenue Minister of Karnataka today said the state government’s preliminary estimate for flood-related losses were Rs 3,500-4,000 crore. 

At least 12 districts have been affected by floods caused due to heavy rainfall. A dozen persons have lost their lives, thousands of homes and acres of crops damaged. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reviewing the flood situation in Karnataka and he will be briefed by Ashoka and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on behalf of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who is in hospital after testing Covid-19 positive. 

 “Based on the preliminary estimates, the losses could be Rs 3,500-4,000 crore. The preliminary estimates also show crop losses on 80,000 acres of farmlands,” Ashoka told reporters before the PM’s video conference. 

Karnataka will seek financial assistance from the Centre for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected persons and to rebuild infrastructure. “We will ask for an advance to be given for now,” Ashoka said. “In the last six months, the Centre gave Rs 310 crore for precautionary measures under disaster management. This won’t be enough. We need to provide compensation (for crop losses) and build new homes for people who will be shifted from landslide-prone areas,” he said, adding that the government will send a detailed report to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking commensurate compensation. 

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah welcomed Modi’s move to review the flood situation in the state, while urging the government to ensure proper financial assistance. “Last year, the CM had estimated damages due to floods at Rs 50,000 cr. He had requested the PM for Rs 35,000 cr but what Karnataka got was just Rs 1,860 cr. Let the ministers be brave enough to ask for the remaining compensation as well,” he said in a tweet. 

“Last year, the CM had reported to the PM about only the damages that happened in August. He had not reported about the damages in September-October. The ministers should apprise the prime minister about that as well and ask for higher compensation,” Siddaramaiah added.

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