By Sushil Kutty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Mumbai, Maharashtra after a roadshow in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, where he hopes all the assembly constituencies will vote BJP. The seventh and last phase of the assembly elections in UP happened March 7 and the phenomenon of ‘aware pashu (stray cattle)’ mustn’t have escaped Modi’s attention.
In Mumbai, Modi found himself listening to complaints about the ‘awara Governor’. Fierce Marathas that they are, Maharashtrians don’t take it kindly when stray comments are made about them. Even more when the ‘awara governor’ tries to teach Maratha history to the Maharashtrian, especially if it has to do with Shivaji Maharaj, who was not just another ‘awara pashu’ in search of a ‘guru’.
We’re talking about Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, whose ‘guru-shishya’ comments have upset Maharashtrians. Besides being a politician and now holding a constitutional post, Koshiyari is an educationist. He takes his past stints as a ‘guru’ seriously—perhaps even that he knows more than the blackboard about the ‘guru’ than stray politicians would know.
Koshiyari is a veteran RSS and, therefore, steadfastly locked horns with the Maha Vikas Aghadi ruling front. Since 2019, Koshiyari has been “meddling” in the state’s higher education field, from the introduction of NEP 2020 to setting up several state cluster universities like the Homi Bhabha State University and the HSNC University in Mumbai.
Koshiyari is a cog in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s mission to make India (and the Hindus in India) a seamless and homogeneous block. The process is ongoing in all the states, including in Tamil Nadu, where the BJP allows itself the luxury of believing that it has a winner in an IPS dropout. Chief Minister MK Stalin understands the dynamics and has made up his mind on what to do about it.
In Maharashtra, the MVA is in all sorts of trouble because the BJP continues to smart after losing the state to a post-poll pact conjured up by three “defeated parties”, one of which, an ally for donkey’s years, made an ass of Devendra Fadnavis, and the BJP a laughing stock. In the event, Guv Koshiyari is the only card the BJP has in Maharashtra, and, to the BJP’s credit, it has succeeded in weaponizing Governor Koshiyari.
So, when Modi went to Maharashtra, the chessboard was in place and some of the moves had already been made. It fell upon Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to make the next move, which he made in Modi’s presence, stating that “some people holding high posts were making unnecessary comments” regarding Maharashtra and Marathi, “not acceptable.”
The rebuke aimed at Governor Koshyari was made in Pune’s MIT College Ground in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence. Koshiyari knew who those “some people” were even if Modi did not, mired as the PM was in not losing Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra’s leaders, including some of the BJP, hadn’t liked it when Koshiyari said a certain Samarth Ramdas was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s ‘guru.’
“I want to bring one thing to the prime minister’s notice. Of late, some people holding important positions are making unnecessary comments which are not acceptable to Maharashtra and its citizens,” the ‘nephew’ Pawar said. “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his mother Rajmata Jijau formed Swarajya. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule laid the foundation for women’s education. We need to carry forward their legacy without holding grudges against anyone and without bringing politics into the development works.”
The “some people” happen to be Koshiyari. “Many chakravartis (emperors), maharajas took birth on this land. But, who would have asked about Chandragupta had there not been Chanakya? Who would have asked about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had there not been Samarth (Ramdas),” Koshiyaro had said. “I am not questioning the calibre of Chandragupta and Shivaji Maharaj. Like a mother who plays a key role in shaping her child, similarly, the role of guru.”
The question boils down to what made Koshiyari make the comments, and why now? Does this sort of talk even help the BJP? Shivaji Maharaj is not a single party’s election icon in Maharashtra. Shivaji has every party in his thrall. And Koshiyari’s Shivaji comments have hurt the BJP. But Modi cannot do anything about it. The Prime Minister cannot spare time till as long as Uttar Pradesh isn’t behind him!
As March 10 looms, ‘awara pashu’ and ‘awara governor’ are eating into Modi. He cannot do much other than ruminate. The ‘pashu’ is unique—it has not one but four stomach compartments and of the four, the ‘rumen’ is the main digestive tract. Straying away from the ‘rumen’, so to speak, does not do any good to the Chief Minister or to the Governor. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s love for the ‘awara pashu’ has done harm to BJP’s chances in Uttar Pradesh, and Modi’s ‘awara governor’ has done harm to the BJP in Maharashtra. (IPA Service)