Morphed ‘Tanhaji’ clip recoils on BJP

Mumbai: The BJP never seems to tire of its brazen attempts to appropriate the Shivaji icon. In a desperate gambit in poll-bound Delhi, the party is believed to have circulated a morphed video clip depicting PM Modi as Chhatrapati Shivaji and Union Home Minister Amit Shah as his trusted military commander Tanhaji Malusare, causing much commotion.

In its purportedly home-spun script, the party has predictably cast Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as the villain, portrayed by Saif Ali in Ajay Devgn's film.

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After eliciting much criticism, the Modi government was forced to direct You Tube to remove the video from its website. Notably, the video clip came into circulation days after a book likening PM Modi to Chhatrapati Shivaji caused a furore in Maharashtra.

The book was written by a Delhi BJP leader. The morphed video, first posted on Twitter handle 'Political Kida', depicts Kejriwal as the villainous Udaybhan

Singh Rathod -- a Mughal fort keeper in the film 'Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior'. It shows a sequence from the film with faces of PM Modi, Shah and Kejriwal superimposed on those of

Chhatrapati Shivaji, Tanhaji and Rathod, respectively. As the controversy raged, the BJP has distanced itself from the clip, saying it was not connected to the party and that it will never liken anyone with Shivaji -- the 17th century founder of the Maratha Empire.

Condemning the video, NCP leader and Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the state government will raise the issue with YouTube, while Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut said such an "insult" will not be tolerated.

In the film, released on January 10, actors Sharad Kelkar, Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan have essayed the roles of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Tanhaji Malusare (a lieutenant of the Maratha warrior king) and Rathod, respectively.

"I condemn the BJP for stooping so low to seek political mileage. It is wrong to use the venerable Shivaji Maharaj and Tanhaji (for political gains)," Deshmukh said.

Raut also questioned the "silence" of his detractors who had protested against his remarks asking BJP leader Udayanraje Bhosale to "prove" that he is a descendant of the warrior king.

Without naming Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide and former Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale's supporters who called for Sangli and Satara shutdown over his remark last week, Raut said he has sent the clip to "all these people" and is awaiting their reaction.

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said his party was not related to the clip and is not using it in the Delhi poll campaign.

"It is wrong to question the BJP over the clip. It is the BJP's stand that nobody can be likened to Shivaji Maharaj," Patil said in a statement.

He also launched a veiled attack on Raut, saying those who seek proof from the descendants of Shivaji have no right to talk about the Maratha warrior king.

Congress leader Amit Deshmukh said the Election Commission should take cognisance of the video.