Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter to Amit Shah, dated December 6, left it to the ruling BJP to decide whether he should give up the post.
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, confronting a huge backlash over his recent comments on Shivaji, has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking for “margadarshan (guidance)”, reminding him that he wanted to quit active politics back in 2016.
Mr Koshyari’s letter to Amit Shah, dated December 6, left it to the ruling BJP to decide whether he should give up the post.
“Amit Bhai, you know that in 2016, when you were in Haldwani (Uttarakhand), I had publicly declared I would not contest the 2019 election and stay away from political posts. But because of the love and faith shown by Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and you in a humble worker like me, I accepted the post of Maharashtra Governor,” Mr Koshyari wrote.
“You know that if I have unintentionally made any mistake, I will not hesitate from immediately apologising or expressing regret. I cannot even dream about insulting icons like Maharana Pratap – who exemplified sacrifice during Mughal rule – Guru Gobind Singh and Chhatrapati Shivaji. I request you to guide me in the current context.”
Mr Koshyari, a veteran BJP leader who became Governor in 2019, has not just been attacked by the opposition; he has also faced condemnation from the state’s ruling Eknath Shinde-BJP coalition.
The comments that have landed him in trouble were made at a function last month to honour Union Minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
“Earlier, when you were asked who your icon is, the answers would be Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi. In Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here. While Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is an icon of the olden days, now there are BR Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari,” Mr Koshyari had said.
Mr Gadkari came out with a clarification soon after, betraying the BJP’s discomfort. “Shivaji Maharaj is our god…We revere him even more than our parents,” the Union Road Transport minister said.
Leaders of team Shinde also condemned the comments, with the rival Uddhav Thackeray Sena faction daring them to take a strong stand against the Governor.
Mr Shinde’s Deputy Devendra Fadnavis, a senior BJP leader, said last month: “One thing is clear, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will remain a hero and idol of Maharashtra and our country as long as the Sun and Moon exist. Even Koshyari had no doubts about this in his mind. Thus, there are various meanings derived from the remarks made by the governor.”