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Sambhaji Brigade splits, faction joins Leftist PWP

Published On : 10 Jan 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy : The Hindu   |  Pic On: Photo credit : The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): The Maratha organisation Sambhaji Brigade is on the brink of a division in its ranks, with former head Pravin Gaikwad on Monday announcing his decision to join the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), a part of the Left Front in the State.

Mr. Gaikwad said, “We worked on a number of social issues over the past 25 years with firm belief in the ideologies of Mahatma Phule, Shahu Maharaj and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, but we have realised that mere social movement is not enough; there has to be a political alternative. We believe the PWP is the only alternative left in the State to oppose the present anti-farmer government, and we have decided to join the party.”

Over 50,000 Sambhaji Brigade activists will officially join the PWP on Thursday at Pune’s Shaniwarwada. The Brigade was at the forefront of the silent Maratha rallies last year, but it first made headlines when its activists attacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune because the institute had been a source for a book on Shivaji by American historian James Lane that they found objectionable.

Known for its violent protests, Brigade is a cadre based organisation targeting mainly Maratha youth and has sizeable presence in Marathwada, Vidarbha and parts of Western Maharashtra. It vehemently opposed the ‘brahminisation’ of Shivaji’s history and has been working to put forward his secular image that as the king of peasants and farmers. Brigade though faced flak and criticism over its questionable methods of protests, which often turned violent, maintains that its attempts are to make ‘bahujan’ society aware of the real history which is wrongly presented by brahminical historians.

The Brigade’s present head, Manoj Akhare, has already announced the formation of a political party named Sambhaji Brigade, which, he said, will be contesting all 227 wards in the upcoming Mumbai civic polls and in other civic bodies, along with 27 Zilla Parishads. Mr. Akhare said that Mr. Gaikwad was “free to join whichever party he wants, but majority of the cadre stands with us.”

Jayant Patil, MLC and general secretary, PWP, said his party was the principal opposition in the State from 1960-80, but its numbers had been dwindling over the past few years. “With the joining of Mr Gaikwad and others, we are sure to bounce back as the main Opposition party.”

Talking about silent Maratha rally in Mumbai, Mr Gaikwad said that the government is purposely talking about the emotional issues, but is keeping main issues of farmers highlighted by morchas aside. “After Nagpur morcha, the Mumbai morcha is not needed. The community has made its point and now instead of rallies it is important to ensure action from the government on these issues,” he said.

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