Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray has lashed out at the Centre for trying to stop his party from celebrating the anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at his fort in Raigadh.
“The Mughals could not stop the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the Raigad fort on June 6, 1674. So, who are the present day Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials to stop Shiv Sena from celebrating the anniversary of his coronation at the historic venue," party chief Bal Thackeray said.
"He was surrounded by the Mughals from all sides, and yet Shivaji Maharaj conducted his coronation ceremony. No Mughal emperor could stop him. So, who are the present day ASI officials (to stop us)?" Thackeray wrote in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna.
Media reports said that the ASI has banned ceremonial functions at the fort citing provisions of the Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.
Thackeray said that for the past several years, followers of the great Maratha warrior king had gathered at the Raigad fort to commemorate the historic event.
Last year, chief minister Ashok Chavan had declared that the June 6 event in 2010 would be a state government affair.
Thackeray hit out at the Congress-NCP ruling combine for not protesting against the ASI decision. "The Congress is busy to get its fourth candidate elected in the legislative council election. The NCP has resorted to horse-trading to get its two candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha," he said.
The Sena chief slammed the ASI as a "useless" department which has "killed" the history of Marathi bravery.
"It prevents us from hoisting the saffron flag at the Sindhudurg fort. Should we instead be hoisting the 'chand tara' flag of Aurangzeb and Afzal Khan?", wrote Bal Thackeray.
He alleged that instead of maintaining Shivaji's forts across the state, the ASI was more interested in preserving Afzal Khan's grave at Pratapgad.
In Aurangabad, Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav Thackeray said he will go to the Raigad fort on June 6, to defy the ASI ban on the coronation ceremony. He appealed to chief minister Ashok Chavan to accompany him to the site.
"Being the chief minister of the state of Shivaji Maharaj, it should be Chavan's prime duty to try and get the ban revoked by the central government. If he can't do that, he should at least accompany us to the Raigad fort," Uddhav said.