Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, who was booked for allegedly orchestrating the Bhima-Koregaon clashes in 2018, has stirred up controversy yet again by objecting to a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Bhide, who heads the fringe right-wing Sangli-based outfit Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, said the PM was “wrong” to say that India has given “Buddha and not yuddha (war) to the world.”Remarking that the teachings of the Buddha were of no use, the octogenarian, known for his provocative claims, said it was the ideals and principles of Maratha warrior kings Chhatrapati Shivaji and his son, Sambhaji, that were required to keep peace in the world.“The PM says that India has given the Buddha to the world … that may be so, but the Buddha’s teachings are of no use … The PM has spoken erroneously. The right code of conduct and behaviour [dharma neeti] were demonstrated by Shivaji and Sambhaji. But Maharashtra can rectify this error [in the PM’s address] by perpetuating the tradition of Shiv Jayanti [celebrating Shivaji’s birth anniversary] which is our work,” Mr. Bhide said at an event in Sangli on Saturday.Both Mr. Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rank among Mr, Bhide’s biggest admirers, regarding him as an exemplar of simple living and an “inspirational teacher”. Mr. Modi had visited Mr. Bhide’s home in Sangli to seek his blessings during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign.Opposition hits outMr. Bhide’s remarks dubbing the Buddha as “irrelevant” drew a storm of criticism from the opposition, as well as from pro-Maratha outfits like the Sambhaji Brigade. “The Buddha has shown India and the world the path of peace … but while the PM talks about the Buddha at world forums, his guru [Sambhaji Bhide] says something altogether different,” State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said in Mumbai.NCP leader Jitendra Awhad said that to understand the teachings of the Buddha, one first ought to have some buddhi (brains). “It was Gautam Buddha, who, through his teachings, introduced the world to samatajnana (knowledge of equality) … Unfortunately, in Maharashtra, after Nathuram Godse, we now have his successor in the form of Sambhaji Bhide,” Mr. Awhad said.Sambhaji Brigade leader Santosh Shinde said Mr. Bhide was deliberately attempting to sow discord between the Maratha and Dalit communities as the latter had embraced Buddhism.“All through the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, Mr. Bhide was repeatedly given a clean chit by the Devendra Fadnavis government. He was not even probed for his role in stoking hatred between two communities despite an FIR being lodged against him. Even now, he is carrying on with his divisive comments,” Mr. Shinde said.A long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mr. Bhide left the organisation to found his own outfit in the 1980s. He has a formidable following in the sugar belt districts of Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur. Legal troubleFIRs were lodged on January 2, 2018, a day after the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, against Mr. Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who heads the fringe outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi.An FIR in Pimpri-Chinchwad against the two was registered by Anita Ravindra Salve, a member of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party, and Anjana Gaikwad. The Shikrapur police, too, had lodged a case against Mr. Ekbote under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Property Damage Act.While Mr. Bhide has never been questioned by the police in connection with the clashes, Mr. Ekbote is out on conditional bail.Earlier this month, Mr. Bhide again raised eyebrows with his remarks after the lunar craft Vikram of the Chandrayaan 2 mission failed to land on the moon minutes before its descent. He claimed that the 39th attempt by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to send a spacecraft to the moon was successful because it was launched on Ekadashi day as per the Indian system of time.