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‘Shivaji was a secular, socialist leader’

‘His endless fights against injustice helped him become a king at the age of 44’

Shivaji Maharaj was a secular, socialist leader. He employed persons from all castes and religions, the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Saturday.

He was speaking after unveiling a statue of the Maratha King at Kadoli village.

He traced the history of 16th century Deccan politics and hailed Shivaji as a brave fighter, strategist and community organiser.

“He was not from any royal family. He rose from among the common folk and went on to lead the country. He was a fighter all his life. His endless fights against injustice helped him become a King at the age of 44. He adorned the throne with his bravery and tenacity,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

“It is ironic that people who opposed his coronation belong to groups now going around with his portrait, claiming to be his supporters,” he chided.

Shivaji fought his enemies who included Muslim and Hindu kings. “In those days, there were fights between kings and political opponents. But what we are seeing today are fights between religious groups. This should not happen,’’ he said.

At no point in time did Shivaji give up his self-respect. His pride is not limited to the Maratha community. It symbolises the pride of India. Great leaders such as Shivaji are not limited to any one community or group. They belong to the world. “This was the reason that our [the previous Congress] government issued orders to celebrate the birth anniversaries of all great leaders,” he said.

“All religions preach harmony and well-being of the human race. No religion attempts to preach hatred. We should not look down upon any religion. Vested interests are trying to misinterpret scriptures and spread lies. We should be careful about them,” he said.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, Forest Minister Satish Jarkiholi, MP Prakash Hukkeri and others were present.

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