Taking a pot-shot at the Narendra Modi-led Government, Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray, has reminded the Prime Minister that his promise of ‘Achhe Din’ has not delivered any result. He is upset about the fact that the BJP did not treat Shiv Sena with respect, and that they got a raw deal as far as the power sharing is concerned in the State and Center. He says he has no idea what Shiv Sena’s relationship with the NDA is.
The Shiv Sena-BJP coalition, forged by Balasaheb Thackeray 25 years ago, stands broken today, but Uddhav hopes that the NDA would find Shiv Sena significant enough to accommodate it in the larger scheme of things. He has every right to hope so, with 18 MPs in hand. The right approach should be to sit and talk. If things don’t work out, talk again, but speaking negatively to the media, when it’s not the last resort, doesn’t inspire confidence.
Surely, the relationship is sour today. There is trust-deficit and communication gap. The reason could be Shiv Sena’s emotional expectations. Traditionally, BJP has been considered to be a Hindutva-driven party. Its philosophy was seen as promoting Hinduism. Shiv Sena functions on the same principles, with Hindutva the only agenda. He didn’t take into account Modi’s insistence of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’. It could be proposed that Uddhav had ideas, he presumed that the BJP would embrace Sena and give in to all its demands. That has not happened. Sena has also not been abandoned, like Uddhav is making it seem. There is simply the question of what is best for the State, for India. Decisions at the top are not taken to appease political partners. Uddhav’s insistence on maximum representation is based on myopic vision. He cannot see beyond Maharashtra.
The difference between the Sena under Balasaheb Thackeray and the Sena today, is in the leadership. While Bal Thackeray was imposing and dictatorial, his son, Uddhav, is rather meek. He does not possess the crowd-pulling magnetism of his father, nor does he have the ability to think beyond the present.
Talking of Bal Thackeray, it’s really confusing to see people discuss the late Bal Thackeray as a statesman, a national figure. He lived the life of a King and was the judge and the jury in matters related to Maharashtra. He was bigger than the system, yet we praised him. He triggered hundreds of riots during his reign, yet, we talk of him with reverence. He had a limited vision; he pushed for jobs for locals only. An outsider would face enough roadblocks to scare him away.
Created and shaped by Bal Thakrey in 1966, the shiv sena attacked South Indians in the 1960’s and 70’s and vandalized their restaurants and homes. In 2008, Biharis and people from Uttar Pradesh, making their living in Mumbai, were described as infiltrators and attacked, their taxis smashed, and several were beaten up. Muslims were also vilified. None of it could have happened without the blessings of Bal Thackeray.
The politics of hatred has many takers. He soon built a large vote bank, founded on the principles of hatred for any and every non-Maharashtrian! He could take anybody on, he had become so powerful. God rest his soul, but even Sachin Tendulkar was not spared when he said, ‘I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that. But I am an Indian first and Mumbai belongs to all Indians’. To which, Thackrey replied, “We don’t want such remarks!”
Bal Thackrey has accepted that he has connections with the famous gangster, Arun Gawli, who later formed his own party and was defeated in the Mumbai municipal elections. These were serious revelations, but no one had the courage to stand up against the undisputed king of Maharashtra.
Even today, his legacy of ‘Mumbai for Maharashtrians only’ is kept being alive by his son, Uddhav. Shiv Sena was doomed from the very beginning. A party based on religiously fundamental principles can never find national acceptance.
At best, Shiv Sena will stay alive.