Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who attended multiple private events in Vadodara Thursday, hailed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III for establishing “kingdoms of the people” in the 16th and 18th centuries respectively.
Emphasising the need to respect various languages, Pawar also urged the Maharashtrian community in Vadodara to “preserve their mother tongue”.
Pawar, who was the chief guest at an event to unveil the bust of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the Shri Malhar Mahalsankat Maratha Mangal Karyalay Sang-athan in the Wadi area of the city, was addressing a gathering of the Maharashtrian community. Flanked by Gaekwad royal scion Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, Deputy Mayor Nanda Joshi, Congress leader Ranjit Chavan and other prominent faces from the community in Vadodara, Pawar drew parallels between the reigns of Chhatrapati Shivaji and
Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III.
Calling Shivaji the “people’s king”, Pawar said, “In the history of India, there were many kingdoms and they were known by names of the leaders… We know of the Mughal state of Delhi, Adi Shah’s state, and so on… but we have never heard of a Bhonsale’s state. That is because Chhatrapati Shivajiraje Bhonsale never wanted his kingdom to be known by his name. It was known as the Hindvi swarajya or the common man’s state.”
Narrating an anecdote that the residents of a remote village in the Andamans had once greeted him with chants of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Pawar said, “A ruler, who has created history and been a people’s king, is recognised by the entire country. When I once travelled to Andamans, the people there greeted me with the Maratha warcry of ‘Har Har Mahadev, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai’… It was such a euphoria.”
The former Union agriculture minister said Shivaji, during his reign, had instructed officers of agriculture “not to expect any taxes from farmers, who were the annadatas (provider of food). Pawar said, “If the farmers paid taxes voluntarily, it was fine but the officers were told not to enforce or expect payments.”
Stating that his father, Govind-rao Pawar, had graduated from the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) of Vadodara, Pawar also hailed praises on Sayajirao III for building a people’s state.
“Many veteran leaders of Maharashtra are graduates of Vadodara… We do have a connection with this city since the times when the two states were united. You (the community living in Vadodara) have a devotion for Vadodara … It is heartening to see that the Maratha Mandir in Vadodara has worked so much to preserve the Marathi language and culture… We have respect for all languages but it is important to preserve one’s mother tongue, too,” Pawar said, urging the community to uphold their native traditions.