Cong natural choice for poll debut, Constitution needs to be protected: Shahu Chhatrapati

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Undated photo of Shahu Chhatrapati, scion of the Kolhapur royal family who is the Congress candidate from Kolhapur parliamentary constituency for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls

Undated photo of Shahu Chhatrapati, scion of the Kolhapur royal family who is the Congress candidate from Kolhapur parliamentary constituency for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls

Kolhapur: Shahu Chhatrapati, scion of the Kolhapur royal family, has said he chose the Congress for his poll debut as he draws inspiration from his great grandfather Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, a hugely revered figure among all segments of society for his bold social reforms.


The 76-year-old, who will take on the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena's sitting Kolhapur MP Sanjay Mandlik, in an interview to PTI said though it is his poll debut, he has been in touch with politics for a long time.

"I have always been on the periphery of it," he said.

Speaking about contesting on the Congress ticket, he said, "It is the oldest political outfit in the country and a pan-India party, associated with the Independence movement." "We have to retain democracy in India, which everyone feels is in danger. The Constitution needs to be protected," Shahu Chhatrapati said.


There are "danger bells", as elections to local bodies have not happened for many years, he pointed out.

"What if something goes wrong? We have to protect democracy and the Constitution. It is of paramount importance. Democracy has to be safeguarded and that is the base of everything," he emphasised.

On the significance of the Kolhapur royal family of Maharashtra, he said its members are supposed to be dedicated to the interests of the people and have to work for their welfare.


The septuagenarian, a highly respected figure in the district, said Kolhapur flourished because of his visionary great grandfather Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, who he termed as the centre point of equality.

"My great grandfather was an illustrious social reformer and stood for all-inclusive development. He never encouraged polarisation of people. He worked for socio-economic upliftment and I take inspiration from him," Shahu Chhatrapati said.

The Congress candidate, who is a graduate in History, Economics and English, said he wanted to carry forward his grandfather's legacy of fighting injustice and bringing about public welfare.


Shahu Chhatrapati, who is associated with educational institutions and charitable trusts created by Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj and his late father Shahaji Chhatrapati, said he disagreed with the BJP that the Congress had done nothing for the country's development.

The Congress' contribution for more than six decades after Independence, be it in economic growth, or development of nuclear energy, cannot be negated, he said.

In fact, it is the BJP which has not fulfilled any of its promises, Shahu Chhatrapati claimed.


Asserting there was no pressure on him to not contest, he said he wouldn't be bothered even if there was.

Speaking about his campaign, Shahu Chhatrapati said his family members are spread across the constituency and the role of each of them is defined.

"What is very heartening is that the people of Kolhapur are coming to office and asking how they can contribute to my campaign. I have been addressing meetings and highlighting the Congress' manifesto, which guarantees welfare for all sections of society," he said.


Shahu Chhatrapati refused to comment on sitting MP Mandlik's recent remark that he was not the "real heir" as he was adopted.

"I don't know anything about this," he said brushing aside the topic.

Elections to the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra will be held in five phases from April 19 to May 20.

Polling in Kolhapur parliamentary constituency will take place on May 7.