In a recent list of candidates declared by Congress, Navinchandra Bandiwadekar’s name was declared as candidate from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat in Konkan. What is interesting is that Bandiwadekar’s photo appears in an article posted by right wing hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha’s website.
Bandiwadekar and his connection with Sanatan dates back to the arrest of Vaibhav Raut, an accused in the Nalasopara Arms haul case registered by the Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad (ATS).
The ATS has even filed a chargesheet in the case in which 12 people were arrested.
In the case, Raut and his associates were found in possession of crude bombs, detonators and firearms.
The ATS had said the terrorists had planned to target the Sunburn music festival in December 2017 to “send a strong message against Western music and culture”, but cancelled its plans over suspicions that one of their identities had been compromised on the surveillance cameras. Later their targets had changed.
When Raut was arrested, a protest was held on September 9, 2018. The Sanatan website declared that it had held a “meeting held in support of ‘Gou-rakshak’ Vaibhav Raut and to protest against unjust arrests of other Hindutvavadis”.
At the function, Bandiwadekar himself said, “We are surprised that a person striving to protect cows is branded as a terrorist. We shall not tolerate injustice against anyone. We shall extend as much support as possible to such person. We have faith in Court and hope that Vaibhav Raut would be released soon. Bhandari community always fights against injustice. We are proud of Vaibhav Raut, not just because he belongs to Bhandari community but as he works for protection of cows and protection of ‘Hindutva’. He has our full support.”
After getting a ticket from Congress, Bandiwadekar now asserts he had never supported Sanatan Sanstha ideology.
Speaking to India Today from Sindhudurg, Bandiwadekar said Vaibhav worked for Sanatan and that he was also a gau rakshak.
“Raut is part of Bhandari community. I am a president of Akhil Bhartiya Bhandari Samaj Mahasangh. Vaibhav Raut is än associate of Bhandari Mahasangh. The way he was arrested, in the middle of the night and his family, which included his mother and wife, were ill-treated We are law abiding community so we had held that meeting.”
The Santan websites quotes Bandiwadekar saying, “We are proud of Vaibhav Raut, who has been working for the protection of cows and protection of ‘Hindutva’!”However now Bandiwadekar says, “we believe in due course of law and await final judgement. At that time I was not in active politics. I was only working for my community for the last 20 years.”
Bandiwadekar kept reiterating that he was not a Sanatan Sanstha member.
However questions have already started to arise as to how Congress, which has always opposed the right wing threat, gave a ticket to Bandiwadekar.
Maharashtra Congress says that it will issue a statement soon.