Sambhaji Raje, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha Saturday. Sources said the BJP’s move to nominate the descendant of the royal family was aimed at beating political undercurrents in Maharashtra, where the clamour for Maratha reservations is again gaining ground.
Raje, a social activist, is one of the faces of the reservation campaign. The move is also being seen as BJP’s attempt to prop up a credible Maratha face.
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While politicians from the Maratha community have traditionally donned the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s chair, the BJP had chosen Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as the party’s first CM in Maharashtra. Opposition parties have been leveraging the government’s delay on the reservation issue to project that the BJP is “Brahmin centric”.
Last month, the BJP had nominated Dr Vikas Mahatme, a social activist who hails from the Dhangar (shepherd) community, to the Rajya Sabha. Amar Sable, a backward class community representative, was nominated earlier.
Raje’s nomination is also seen as BJP’s attempt to make its presence felt in the Maratha-dominated western Maharashtra, the fortress of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
Previously, the BJP was understood to have reached out to Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale, who is also from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s family and represents the Satara parliamentary constituency for the NCP, to switch sides.