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In Maharashtra’s Political Bedlam, How Uddhav Thackeray Vanquished Balasaheb

Author: Yuvraj Pokharna
Publication: News18.com
Date: July 7, 2022
URL:      https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/in-maharashtras-political-bedlam-how-uddhav-thackeray-vanquished-balasaheb-5503483.html

Uddhav Thackeray surrendered the principles of his gutsy father, Balasaheb, to Sonia Gandhi and reached the nadir in trying to please her. Soon after he announced an alliance with Congress in 2019, true Shiv Sainiks knew that the ground under his feet was slipping

Ever since the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray — the petulant and wayward scion of Maharashtra — insulted the people’s popular mandate in the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election, things have gone down south for him. The constitutional turmoil in Maharashtra continues, with more Shiv Sena MLAs arriving in Guwahati clamouring to join the Sena headed by Eknath Shinde. The Shinde-led Sena now has 39 Shiv Sena legislators in the Maharashtra legislative Assembly—two more than two-thirds of the party’s strength, two from the Prahar Janshakti Party, and seven Independents. Even if there is a vertical split, more than two-thirds of Shiv Sena MLAs will not be kicked out of the party because of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The Balasaheb Thackeray-founded Shiv Sena revolved mainly around Hindutva, nationalism, and Maharashtra’s glory, and not surprisingly, the true Shiv Sainiks, who had grown up on Balasaheb’s ideology, saw through Shiv Sena’s unnatural alliance in the state much before Uddhav Thackeray himself. The pipe-smoking Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray had a fierce ideological base, which gained monumental support across the country, and thanks to which the party soon gained all its political relevance and power by playing the role of a Hindutva party.

In an interview with Rajat Sharma in 2014, Balasaheb Thackeray said, “Jo Hindutva hai, wo humara Rashtritva hai, aur agar ye Rashtritva iss desh mein gunah ho toh main baar baar karunga.” Bal Thackeray was a staunch supporter of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and said, “I’m proud of the Shiv Sainiks who razed the contentious Babri Masjid," and that “cops must support Hindu Maha Sangh in this struggle.” Clearly, Balasaheb was a man of integrity, clarity, and guts. On the other hand, Uddhav, the silver spoon child, had hurled a ‘Gaumutra’ jibe at the BJP by commenting that, “You have filled your mouth with ‘Gaumutra’ and cow dung, and are talking to us." The insinuation loaded with Hindu hate has been previously used by terrorists such as Adil Ahmad Dar, a member of the jihadi group Jaish-e-Mohammad. But this is precisely the weak tea we would expect from him after he shamelessly and desperately joined hands with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, post the death of his father.

In 1999, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray used the term “scoundrel” while completely rejecting the possibility of any alliance with Sharad Pawar and choosing the party’s principles over Pawar or Power. Moreover, throughout his life, Bal Thackeray, more than any BJP leader, had ad nauseam demonstrated his disdain for the Gandhi family. Bal Thackeray once barbed, “After the Mughal and British rule, India was now being ruled by an Italian,” and that “it is better to return India to the British than to be ruled by her”, not to forget his repeated jibes about her early career as a waitress. In his pursuit of power, Uddhav made a thousand compromises, ridiculing and trading Bal Thackeray’s legacy for power and the party’s future for an uncertain tenure. The Shiv Sena, which was frighteningly dominant in Maharashtra, soon started to lose its monopoly and then began the fishing of votes by pandering to one community and then to another. In this political landscape, Uddhav forgot that inheriting his formidable father’s name wasn’t enough; he had to earn his gravitas.

Sharad Pawar ostensibly seems to ply the Thackeray family as a pawn since the inception of the Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) coalition, setting the craziest record in corruption, scandals, and political vendetta. In less than three years in power, Uddhav presided over the heinous lynching of Sadhus in Palgarh, the beating up of a retired Navy officer for forwarding a joke on “Uddhav Saheb” and the heckling of the common man for sharing posts critical of Shiv Sena, the state administration’s dubious role and Aditya Thackeray’s allegedly rumoured involvement in the mysterious death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, unlawful bulldozing of Kangana’s residence, and a spate of political murders and cover-ups, the hounding of senior journalists like Arnab Goswami and Sameet Thakkar, the list is inexorable. However, do these examples sound a little old? Let us remember Ketaki Chitale, who was arrested and jailed for 40 days for sharing a post panning Sharad Pawar. But the brazenness with which intersectional feminists, democracy tabulators, and human rights profiteers invalidate Chitale’s disproportionate arrest is symptomatic of a far more sinister phenomenon: power play. Therefore, Sharad Pawar has made the single best case for the BJP and is paving the way for Devendra Fadnavis to move into “Varsha”, the official Chief Minister’s residence in Maharashtra.

Uddhav surrendered the principles of his gutsy father to Sonia Gandhi and reached the nadir in trying to please and gratify her by all possible means. Soon after Uddhav announced the party’s alliance with the Congress in 2019, true Shiv Sainiks and the party cadre knew that the ground under his feet was slipping.

Back in 2019, Thackeray mocked the Congress for having too many eunuchs who were busy bowing in honour of the Italian lady (Sonia Gandhi) and said, “Congress madhe itke hijade hijade ahet, chavauycha tari konala?" Sagle jhuktaet tya Sonia Gandhi chya samor. Hi hijadyanchi aulad jo paryant ya deshavarti rajya kartie, Congress paksha mhanun, to paryant ya deshala changle divas yeu shaknaar nahi", translating to “The Congress party has so many members who are eunuchs. All are busy bowing in front of Sonia Gandhi. The country will never see good days until this army of eunuchs, which calls itself the Congress party, is ruling over India". To appease the Gandhi family, the Shiv Sena even called for the renaming of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country’s highest sporting honour, as a move in the spirit of revenge and malice. Furthermore, Shiv Sena office-bearers were seen organising an ‘Azaan Competition’ in Mumbai, paying tribute to tyrant Tipu Sultan on his death anniversary, and creating an Urdu calendar referring to the party’s deceased founder Balasaheb Thackeray as “Janab”.

In February 2020, the Uddhav government even scrapped the quota for economically weaker sections in RTE, introduced by the Modi government, to help the poor Hindus who don’t benefit from any other quota. As Dr Anand Ranganathan rightly said, “Shiv Sena today resembles a shivering cat painted with tiger stripes, and with every monsoon rain, the paint is wearing out.” For Sonia Gandhi’s political vendetta, the Mumbai police crossed multiple boundaries while dealing with the fake case orchestrated against Arnab Goswami. Param Bir Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, is exposing the Maharashtra government with each passing day. Param Bir has confessed that the allegations against Arnab were nothing but a hoax to subdue and muzzle Goswami and that he was compelled to reinstate Sachin Vaze by Uddhav Thackeray and Anil Deshmukh.

The self-inflicted conflict began ever since the Shiv Sena chose power over the party’s principles. “We are Balasaheb’s staunch Shiv Sainiks. Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding Balasaheb’s thoughts and Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb’s teachings," tweeted Eknath Shinde, clarifying his stance that the party is compromising with Balasaheb’s principles and objection to the alliance of Shiv Sena with the Congress and NCP. Even after such humiliation, Uddhav Thackeray is clinging to the Chief Minister’s chair. In an attempt to keep its flock together, Raut has claimed that the Shiv Sena is ready to consider leaving the MVA and joining the BJP to form a government, but the rebel MLAs must talk to Uddhav Thackeray directly to resolve differences.

It appears that the Shiv Sena never learnt to respect the people’s mandate. Far away from the wailings of Uddhav Thackeray and his gimmick of being Covid-19 positive—to portray himself as a victim of a larger political game afoot—lacks the foresight to realise that he can only play the victim just so many times before people start to figure out that maybe he himself is the problem.

It is as shocking as it is stupefying to realise that today, India’s financial capital lacks a stable government, with almost every minister eloping from the state, and yet the CM, despite losing moral and political rights to be, is steadfast in refusing to capitulate, causing the state and its populace to suffer. The Hindutva-centric Shiv Sena—that we know of—is at the brink of collapse, with or without Eknath Shinde, but new elections must be held for the people of Maharashtra, who deserve better.


-Yuvraj Pokharna is an independent journalist and columnist. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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