Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Shivaji fought for unity, stop this dirty, divisive politics in his name

| FEBRUARY 20, 2024, 12:09 AM IST

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is known to be a brave and legendary warrior who left an indelible footprint on Goa’s landscape. His legacy lives on since generations and his rule of the Maratha Empire stands firmly etched in the pages of history. Moreover, Shivaji’s character is defined by the unity he brought among people, and his efforts to bring 18 different sections together are testimony of his influential leadership.

While the State celebrated Shivaji Jayanti on Monday with great pomp and festivity with orange flags fluttering on every nook and corner of Goa and people paying obeisance by garlanding statues of the leader, political leaders have conveniently played their own little trick to use the moment to their best possible advantage. A concerted effort has been made lately by a few to use the Maratha warrior as a stepping platform to attain communal heroism for themselves.

On Sunday, amid slogans of “Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai” a life-size statue of the warrior was installed in a private property at Sao Jose de Areal, an area that is isolated and away from habitation. Surprisingly, the panchayat claims that it has not granted any consent or NOC to install the statue. Amid a tense situation on Monday, Archeology Minister Subhash Phal Dessai inaugurated the statue while stating that it does not require panchayat’s clearance.

While there is no bar on installing statues of any faith, although consent of the local bodies is still debatable, there has been bitterness about the way Shivaji statues have been installed lately. You don’t need chest-beating followers to express allegiance, Shivaji is a tall and historic figure who is respected across Goa, India and beyond. He is a leader who doesn’t need such fallacious ways of glorification, and certainly not this level of contempt.

That being said, whether it is the statute of Shivaji or some other leader or saint, the rule of law has to be respected no matter which community or political class it belongs to. Bypassing the local bodies, or rendering them irrelevant only shows the ugly agenda of the political class and ministers who are constantly playing appeasement politics through such communally-sensitive issues overlooking reason, legalities or local sentiment.

There is a need to tread a cautious path in such communally-charged situations, and a true leader is expected to lead by Shivaji’s example of unifying people. Erect a statute, but win the confidence of the people of that place, and play by the rules.

Interestingly, this statue is installed in an isolated area of Sao Jose de Areal. Bajrang Dal leaders have gone on record that they will not keep quiet if even a scratch is inflicted on the statute. The question is who takes responsibility for securing the area? What happens if anti-social elements, in a deliberate attempt to stoke communal fires, vandalise the statue? Who is responsible for the fallout?

In the name of Shivaji’s bhakti, political leaders are slowly but steadily taking Goa to the road of communal discord. The State that has enjoyed peace and communal harmony over the years is now increasingly witnessing hostility, intolerance and unease through an agenda that is forced upon people.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has times and again rooted for unity in his discourse and firmly asked people to remain united and foil attempts of anti-social elements trying to create a communal divide. His speeches at Independence Day and Liberation Day functions amplify that thought. Perhaps, it is time that these thoughts are transformed into action. Goa indeed needs a leader like Shivaji today who unites people.

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