Pune: Though not known for giving explanations for his statements, former Union agriculture minister and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar made an exception on Saturday and said, “Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Phule and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar are my icons. I have always followed them. In this context, I suggested that the Phule pagdi (turban) be offered to the guests of honour, I did not mean to hurt anyone.”
Pawar made the statement while inaugurating murals based on Swami Vivekananda’s life and a diagnostics centre in Padmavati. The programme was organised by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
On June 10, while speaking on the eve of NCP’s 19th foundation day, Pawar had presented a Phule pagdi instead of the traditional Puneri pagdi to Chhagan Bhujbal and had announced that henceforth, his party will greet people with only Phule pagdis. Following this, political parties criticised Pawar and claimed it was an insult to Puneities to reject the Puneri pagdi.
Different types of pagdis are associated with different communities. Puneri pagdi is seen as a traditional headgear associated with Brahmin rulers or Peshwas. On the other hand, the Phule pagdi was worn by social reformers like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and was a symbol of inclusion of Bahujans. Offering a Phule pagdi often denotes denial of norms set by upper caste rulers.
Pawar said, “There was much discussion about my pagdi statement. Pagdis or headgears are not accessible to the common man and
Dr Ambedkar never wore anything on his head. So, I suggested to wear the Phule Pagdi. It reflects a sense of equality, transformation and scientific temperament. Nowadays, the nation needs progressive thoughts.”