Mumbai: In the early 1980s, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a youth from Ludhiana, joined the Maharashtra-based Shiv Sena as he felt inspired by its founder, Bal Thackeray. And Goyal found many ways to impress his idol.
The 1980s represented one of the most turbulent periods of the Shiv Sena, when violence took precedence in their agitations, and Goyal took the template to the protests he organised in Delhi, party sources familiar with his stint told ThePrint.
But things have changed. Goyal became a member of the BJP in February 2014, and has found a new hero in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To celebrate the Prime Minister, who “has put India on the world map”, Goyal has penned a book: Aaj Ke Shivaji — Narendra Modi.
It was released at the BJP office in Delhi Saturday evening in the presence of Delhi party chief and MP Manoj Tiwari, BJP vice-president Shyam Jaju, and former MP Maheish Girri.
However, the author’s bid to draw a comparison between Modi and the 17th-century Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has not gone down well in Maharashtra.
A surge of protests has followed its release, including from the ruling coalition of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.
Since Sunday evening, Shiv Sena activists have burnt Goyal’s effigy in various parts of Maharashtra and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the book. Senior leaders of the Congress and the NCP have taken to the streets too, separately, protesting against the comparison and echoing the demand for the book’s withdrawal.
Following the protests, the BJP has distanced itself from the book. A defiant Goyal, however, is standing his ground.
A question for Shivaji’s descendants
The protests against Goyal’s book began after he posted photos from the launch on Twitter.
आज @BJP4Delhi कार्यालय में आयोजित धार्मिक सांस्कृतिक सम्मेलन में मेरे द्वारा मा. श्री नरेन्द्र मोदी जी पर लिखि गई पुस्तक ‘‘आज के शिवाजी – नरेन्द्र मोदी’’ का विमोचन किया गया। @BJP4India @ManojTiwariMP @ShyamSJaju @MaheishGirri @blsanthosh @siddharthanbjp @JPNadda pic.twitter.com/VVCTQKdYFS
— Jai Bhagwan Goyal (@JaiBhagwanGoyal) January 11, 2020
Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut posted a series of angry tweets Sunday, naming Shivaji’s descendants Chhatrapati Udayanraje, Chhatrapati Shivendra Raje and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje and asking them to clarify their stand on the comparison.
All three are members of the BJP. While Udayanraje is a former NCP MP who is now with the BJP, Sambhaji is a Rajya Sabha MP representing the party. Both Udayanraje and Sambhaji Raje have gone on record to say they were inspired by Modi.
Speaking to the media, Maharashtra Public Works Minister and former chief minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress took a potshot at Modi, saying “people will never be worthy of even the toe-nail of Shivaji Maharaj irrespective of how much they try”.
NCP state president and Water Conservation Minister Jayant Patil adopted a similar refrain. “My king is as tall and vast as the Sahyadri mountains. No one can be compared to him.”
He warned the BJP that if they do not pay heed to the ongoing protests, they “will have to face Maharashtra”. Tweeting a photograph of the book, the state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad tweeted, “Have they lost their mind?”
Students of the Pune-based Fergusson College took to the streets as well, shouting anti-BJP slogans and seeking a ban on the book.
‘Truly like Shivaji’
Goyal ended his association with the Shiv Sena in 2008, on account of the state’s campaign against north Indians.
He then established the Rashtravadi Shiv Sena, a breakaway faction of the Shiv Sena that vandalised the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi on 3 November 2008 to retaliate against the Sena’s stance vis-a-vis north Indians.
In conversations with the media, Goyal has appeared unfazed by the protests against his book. Modi is truly like Shivaji Maharaj, he said in media statements Monday, and works like the ruler as well.