The Shiv Sena : Patriotic or Parochial and Sectarian Organization
In 1964 a small time cartoonist decided to enter politics. He was Balasaheb Thackeray who founded the Shiv Sena. His game was pure politics and a desire to up his status, as he began by championing the cause of the Marathi middle class. The party had some appeal and became the dominant force in the city of Mumbai. Balasaheb was not averse to extortion and threats. He also collected a set of goons who went around intimidating and even beating up all those who opposed him. To catch the sympathy of the Marathi " Manoos" or middle class, he began an agitation against South Indians. The Shiv Sena began to attack Udupi hotels and people from South India and soon won recognition as a " champion" of the Marathi "Manoos".
Unfortunately for Balasaheb, the traditions of tolerance and nationalism are strong in Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena could not increase its base outside Mumbai and West Maharashtra. The Congress party remained the dominant force and for all practical purpose Balasaheb had to take a back seat. To become more relevant, the Shiv Sena now began to wear the coat of Hindutva and allied itself with the BJP. This did not change the equation and both the BJP and Shiv Sena tasted power only( in late nineties) once in almost 50 years since the formation of the Sena.
Balasaheb and other Shiv Sena leaders despite wearing the garb of Hindutva and nationalism, began a systematic targetting of North Indians, particularly from Bihar and UP. This facet of the Shiv Sena policy has never been explained as to why the Shiv Sena first attacked the South Indians and later the migrants in Mumbai from Bihar and UP, who were all Hindus. This showed that the Shiv Sena was in reality only a party of goons and chose to pay lip service to nationalism and Hindutva. The purpose was to somehow become relevant in entire Maharashtra. Unfortunately, except for Mumbai, the Sena writ ran nowhere and the Marathi people rejected the sectarian and divisive politics of Balasaheb and the Shiv Sena. Repeated defeats at the hustings perhaps disillusioned Balasaheb, but he put up a brave front.
Balasaheb picked up an anti Pakistan line also and hoped this would catch the eye of the people of Maharashtra. But here also he was barking up the wrong tree as except for making headlines like digging up the cricket pitch in Wankhede Stadium, the Sena had no coherent policy and remained away from the seat of government. It's alliance partner the BJP did not subscribe to the sectarian and parochial policy of the Sena and a parting was on the cards. This happened in the 2014 election and the Sena fighting on its own steam won just about 60 seats in a house of 288. This shows that the brand of politics indulged in by the Sena has very few takers. Moreover many in Maharashtra ask as to how a party that claims to be nationalist and has a plank of Hindutva, can at the same time attack Indians from other states.
The demise of Balasaheb has not changed the Shiv Sena approach. They still talk of nationalism and their recent act of throwing ink and blackening the face of the man who was launching a book by Kasuri, the ex- Pak foreign minister on the plea that Indian soldiers are being killed in Kashmir is a case in point. It served no purpose when the Sena has not given up its demand to stop migration from UP and Bihar to Maharashtra. This hits at the root of the Indian nation, but the Sena now under the son of Balasaheb, Uddhav is unable to see the light.
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