Politics of protest over Maharashtra Bhushan award to Purandare

Politics of protest over Maharashtra Bhushan award to Purandare

Date: 21 Aug 2015 17:18:47


With the Bombay High Court quashing the PIL filed by Sambhaji Brigade activists challenging Maharsahtra Government decision to confer the prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan award to ‘Shivshaheer’ Babasaheb Purandare Wednesday, the decks are cleared for honouring this socially acclaimed ‘Bard’ of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The High Court snubbed the petitioners by calling their petition as ‘publicity stunt’ of the Sambhaji Brigade as the plea came up for hearing hours before the award was to be conferred on Purandare. The High Court had said that there was ‘no substance’ in the petition and imposed fine of Rs. 10,000/- on the petitioners for ‘wasting the Court’s time.

The state has been witnessing an unnecessary and uncalled for controversy relating to this decision of the BJP state government led by Devendra Fadanvis for last some days. This controversy has shaken the otherwise calm and peaceful social life in the most progressive state. Maharashtra is known for its progressive attitude right from the days of Mahatma Fule, Lokmanya Tilak and Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve to Yashwantrao Chavan. Chavan, the first chief minister of Maharashtra had the nack of taking all the good people along with him in the state’s progress. He had even praised Purandare for his works. But the same Maharashtra is witnessing today exchange of wildest of accusations and casteist expletives at each other vitiating the otherwise peaceful atmosphere.

The reason?

The State Government headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis announced the most prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan Award 2015 to veteran historian, prolific writer and best known ‘Poet of Shivaji’ (Shivshahir) Babasaheb Purandare of Pune for his notable contribution in the field of literature. But accusing him of subscribing to Hindutva ideology and espousing the cause of Hindutva through his lectures and writings on Shivaji, the Maratha lobby which dominated the state politics for over six decades, started opposing the decision of the government.

Amidst the opposition voiced by Nationalist Congress Party MLC Jitendra Awhad, the members of Sambhaji Brigade, Dnynapeeth Award winner litterateur Bhalchandra Nemade, former PCI chief Justice P B Sawant and others, another group supporting Purandare also came out in the open. The verbal controversy took violent turn Tuesday when some alleged activists of Sambhaji Brigade pelted stones at State Transport buses, and even burned some buses in Pandharpur, Osmanabad and other areas of their stronghold.

Some over enthusiastic writers even filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court challenging the Government decision. The High Court is expected to give its verdict on the same by Wednesday evening when the award is slated to be conferred on Purandare.

However, ignoring the opposition the state government has decided to go ahead with its decision and the award is likely to be conferred on this ‘devout devotee of Shivaji Maharaj’ this evening. The High Court decision came as a shot in the arm for the state government.

The Prestigious Award:

Initiated in 1996 the Maharashtra Bhushan Award is the highest prestigious award presented annually by the Maharashtra state government to persons in recognition of their significant contribution in various walks of social life.

Initially the award was given to persons belonging to fields of literature, science, arts, and sports. In the later days, other fields like social work, healthcare services, journalism and public administration are included. The award carries a cash amount of Rs. Five lakh, a memento and a citation. A government appointed committee selects the winners.

The government had appointed a committee comprising state Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawade, Cultural Affairs Secretary Valsa Nair Singh, Cultural Affairs Director Ajay Ambekar and non-official members Wasudev Kamat, cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar, lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, journalist Rajiv Khandekar, and social activist Mangala Kamble. This committee had unanimously agreed on the name of Babasaheb Purandare for this prestigious award and the Chief Minister made the announcement to this effect on May 1, the Foundation Day of Maharashtra. The Award was to be given to him on August 19.