Sambhaji Bhide is widely recognised throughout Maharashtra as a staunch right-wing leader and founder of the Shivpratishthan Hindustan, which boasts a large following in Maharashtra, particularly among the youth.
His a name often comes in the spotlight because of his controversial statements. However, no action has been taken against him. In July, 2023, Bhide allegedly made an inappropriate remark about Mahatma Gandhi during an event in Maharashtra’s Amravati which led to protests against him in the state.
Following Bhide’s statement, Gandhi’s great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi filed a complaint against Bhide in Pune, to no avail.
Bhide’s name is also connected with the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2018. However, the police later removed his name from the investigation due to a lack of evidence.
Bhide and his organisation wield significant influence in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur. We spoke to former members of Shivpratishtha who had worked with Bhide to understand how the organisation operates.
We discussed whether the organisation solely targets one community in the name of Hindutva, whether there is any connection between Shivpratishtha and the RSS, and how donations to this organisation are accounted for.