Satara: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday that he had never sought to be called `Janata Raja', but also contended that the right epithet for 17th century warrior king Shivaji was "Chhatrapati" (emperor).
He also said that the term `Janata Raja' (enlightened king) was coined by poet saint Samarth Ramdas, and added that Ramdas was not Chhatrapati Shivaji's "guru".
Amid a row over a book which compares Narendra Modi to Shivaji, BJP leader and former NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale had taken a veiled swipe at Pawar on Tuesday, saying only Chhatrapati Shivaji should be called `Janata Raja'.
Pawar's supporters sometimes use the term to praise the NCP supremo.
"Somebody said the term Janata Raja is being used... I never asked anyone to call me Janata Raja," Pawar said at an event at Khatav in Satara district without naming Bhosale, who quit the NCP last year.
BJP MLA Shivendrasinh Bhosale, a descendant of Shivaji and cousin of Udayanraje, was also present at the function.
"But if you study the history of Shivaji Maharaj, his appellation was `Chhatrapati' and not `Janata Raja'. Ramdas coined the word `Janata Raja'," Pawar said.
"Some people say Ramdas was the guru of Shivaji Maharaj, but it is not true. Ramdas was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj, but Rajmata Jijamata (Shivaji's mother) was," he added.
Whether Ramdas could be called Shivaji's mentor is an old debate among historians. The two were contemporaries.
Pawar said some people "who could write" created the perception that Ramdas mentored Shivaji.
A controversy broke earlier this week over "Aaj Ke Shivaji: Narendra Modi", a book written by BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal which describes prime minister Modi as a modern-day Shivaji.
The ruling Shiva Sena, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra took umbrage, saying that nobody could be compared to the legendary king.
Meanwhile, NCP worker Nitin Deshmukh put up a poster in Mumbai's Ghatkopar area, saying Pawar was indeed the `Janata Raja'.
Maharashtra is known in the world due to Pawar's leadership, and his detractors should not slander him out of their "poor knowledge", the poster said.