Konddeo statue: Sambhaji Brigade renews threat

"Dadoji Konddeo was not Shivaji's guru, but was only working for him, and there has been no mention in any historic text or relic found that he has been Shivaji's mentor," said Shantaram Kunjir, working president, Sambhaji Brigade.

Dadoji Konddeo, the veteran warrior who is said to have taught the war tactics of sword and 'dandpatta' to Shivaji when he was a young boy, is in the eye of the storm again with the Sambhaji Brigade threatening that, if the statue is not removed it will not stop short of adopting its "own methods."

In 2000, the Pune Municipal Corporation in its golden jubilee year renovated Lal Mahal, the palace where Shivaji and his mother Jijabai lived during his formative years. On a small plot near the entrance, it installed statues of Shivaji tilling the land with a golden plough with Jijabai and Dadoji Konddeo by his side. The tableau portrayed Konddeo as his guru. This had led to a furore in 2004 with the Sambhaji Brigade asking the civic authorities to remove the statue. This eventually led to the closure of the Lal Mahal as a major tourist destination. It was, however, reopened in 2006.

The Brigade had also ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) on January 5, 2004, after objecting to certain passages from the book Shivaji Hindu King in Islamic India by James Laine.

Santosh Chitnis, general secretary, Sambhaji Brigade, Pune said, "Due to the standoff between certain historians and the Sambhaji Brigade members, we were portrayed as a terrorist organisation. We, however, would like to clarify that the Brigade is a law-abiding organisation and believes in fighting for what is true."

Kunjir also insisted that it was Shivaji's father Shahaji who was responsible for mentoring Shivaji.

He said, "Shivaji's initial formative days were spent in Bangalore where he was brought up under the guidance of his father. Then at the age of 13, he was sent to Pune to manage the city. Dadoji Konddeo was just an administrative officer and his tasks were those of taking care of the administration and development of the city. We had already raised the issue in 2004 and had got an assurance from the civic administration that the statue would be removed, in 2006. However, nothing materialised." He also said, "We want the statue of Shahaji Raje to be installed after removing that of Dadoji Konddeo. We have given the administration a period of one month to do so and are hopeful that the civic administration will comply with our demands."

Interestingly, the state government has also put on hold the Dadoji Konddeo award, Maharashtra's own version of the Dronacharya award given out at national level, owing to the controversy regarding whether he was actually Shivaji's guru or not.

The state government has formed a committee of historians to settle this controversy. Shrimant Kokate, A H Salunkhe, Gangadhar Banbare, and Chandrashekhar Shikhare are amongst the prominent members of the committee.

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