Strangers to Maharashtra politics and the peculiar influences wielded upon it by minutiae of Maratha history would have been bewildered to read the headline of this piece of news from two weeks ago: "Konddeo’s statue in Pune sparks statewide protests"
The proponents of this bit of redecoration swear in the name of Sambhaji, son of Shivaji - the seventeenth century founder of Maratha sovereignty. Their opponents, on the other hand, are inspired by Sambhaji's father's ideals. In a comic twist, the redecorators demanded that the Konddeo stadium in Thane (near Bom... I mean, Mumbai) be renamed after Prabodhankar Thackeray - father of the leader of their political opponents.
Confused by these filial rivalries? But this is not all.
In retaliation, the Konddeo supporters who enjoy a majority in the municipal board of distant Aurangabad resolved that their fair city (I use the term loosely) be renamed Sambhajinagar - after the ruling idol of their opponents.
It sounds like the Lucknow nawabs going "Pehle aap, pehle aap" (i.e. your father's name , no *your* father's name) but underneath this idiocy lie deadly serious caste issues that would put the Lilliput-Blefuscu feuds to shame.
Did I forget to mention that the statue removal so incensed the Konddeo partisans that only the torching of several trucks and state transport buses in broad daylight brought them some relief ?
The police have recordings of the Shiv Sena heir-apparent's personal assistant giving detailed instructions to their elected member of the state legislative council (upper house of the state legislature) on the precise number of buses to set fire to and how to time "the protest" for maximum effect. But have no fear. There is no real danger to the lady and gentleman in question. As our esteemed state level minister in charge of law enforcement remarked after the Nov 26 terrorist attacks in Bombay remarked "Aisay haadsay to hotay hi rehtay hai".
It isn't as if Maharashtra state has solved all the problems of its constituents. There are serious issues of pollution, energy, lack of clean water, corruption, environmental degradation, farmers committing suicides in large numbers and of course development. It is nice, therefore, to see that our brave politicians have their priorities right.
Jai Bhawani! Jai Maharashtra!