Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], December 1 (ANI): Arvind Sawant, the leader of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, on Thursday slammed state minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha over his alleged remark drawing a parallel between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who also heads the rival Sena camp.
Lodha, the minister for Tourism, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, as well as Women and Child Development, in the current Shinde Sena-BJP ruling coalition, triggered a furore after comparing CM Shinde to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, saying, "his actions against Uddhav Thackeray is somewhat similar to the historic escape of Shivaji Maharaj from Agra."
With alleged support from the BJP, Shinde had engineered a flight of MLAs and MPs from the Sena, eventually leading to the fall of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of the Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.
Sawant was eventually named chief minister, with former CM Devendra Fadnavis taking over as his deputy.
Sawant, along with fellow leaders and workers of the Uddhav Sena, voiced their outrage over Lodha's remark during a protest at the Kemps Corner area of Mumbai on Thursday.
Speaking to ANI, Sawant said, "He has insulted Shivaji Maharaj and till he tenders an apology, we will continue to agitate like this."
The minister, along with fellow Uddhav Sena members, even raised slogans against the minister during their protest on Thursday.
Also tweeting his protest against the minister's remark, NCP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto wrote, "If Devendra Fadnavis and BJP have any respect for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, they must ask Mangal Prabhat Lodha to resign for making a disrespectful comparison and insulting the valour of our Maharaj. Comparing a Turncoat with Shivaji Maharaj is unacceptable. Lodha must apologise."
The Maharashtra minister made the alleged remark was speaking at the 363rd anniversary of Shiv Pratap Divas in the Pratapgad Fort in Satara district. The day is marked to commemorate the killing of Mughal general Afzal Khan by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Clarifying his statement later amid a backlash, Lodha said, "I only cited Maharaj as an example. No one should politicise it (his statement)."
Lodha's alleged remark has added fresh fuel to the controversy over a statement by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, calling Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj an 'old icon'.
Addressing a function at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Aurangabad on Saturday, the Maharashtra governor had said, "If someone asks who your idol is, you don't have to go out looking for one. You will find them right here in Maharashtra. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has become an old idol now, you can find new ones -- from Babasaheb Ambedkar to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari." (ANI)