23rd January 1926, Saturday. India was under British rule, Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad had gone incognito. Masterda Surjya Kumar Sen was under imprisonment, while the Kakori Conspiracy trials were sub judice. The movement for independence was going slow. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was still to find his own call, while Muhammad Ali Jinnah was slowly growing into a disillusioned, communal prick.
Into this scenario took birth a boy, who would trigger an ideological revolution in independent India, saving not only a city, but also an entire state from falling prey to the malice of the communist influenced, socialist powers dominating the Indian peninsula. Love him or hate him, that’s your choice, but in no way, can you ignore his contributions to a resurgent, though turbulent India that we’re living in today. His name was Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray, and this is his tale.
Yes, the same Balasaheb Thackeray, whose death paralyzed the whole of Mumbai into a shell-shocked state. The same Balasaheb Thackeray, who was viciously defamed by a joint force of pseudo liberals, intellectual terrorists, and monstrous Islamic terrorists, who otherwise failed to check his growth in Maharashtra. We know Bal Thackeray, the anarchist who ruled Mumbai without being in power, but do we know the actual Bal Thackeray, revered by not only Maharashtra, but the whole of India, with a patriotic inclination?
Born in Pune, Bombay Presidency [now Maharashtra], to progressive social activist Keshav Sitaram Thakre, Bal Thackeray was not academically inclined, and had dropped out in the 10th standard itself. He, however inherited the caustic wit and the straightforward, no nonsense attitude of his father, which he slowly developed to his use as a hard-hitting cartoonist. He initially worked with the Free Press Journal as a cartoonist. However, disillusioned with the ideals of the news magazine, he left it in 1960. Later, in the same year, he found a cartoon weekly, named Marmik, with his brother Srikant Thackeray. The unusual surname, Thackeray, was accorded by Balasaheb himself, on the lines of popular English author, William Makepeace Thackeray, substituting the Indian version, Thakre.
On his 94th birth anniversary, let’s break the hardcore myths that unjustly surrounded the man, who if not directly, then indirectly saved Mumbai from becoming another Calcutta, doomed and crushed:-
1. Balasaheb Thackeray was a chauvinistic misogynist:-
Hmmm, since almost every right winger was painted as a born rapist and misogynist, so was Bal Thackeray. He was not very vocal about his opinions on women empowerment. However, his silent work on women empowerment ensured, that today, Mumbai, compared to other metros, is a relatively safer city. Dare you question their nightlife, for Mumbai never sleeps.
2. Balasaheb Thackeray is the forefather of Saffron terror:-
If saffron terror is a farce, so is the allegation of Balasaheb Thackeray being a forefather. His unapologetic approach towards Islamic terrorism and their traders might invite the ire of many a pseudo liberal, but Bal Thackeray was unequivocal in his support to Indian Muslims. In his opinion, the only Muslims that needed to be weeded out were those, who were maligning INDIA with their dirty tricks, making a direct reference to the Salafi terrorists playing their murderous dance of violence in the notorious 90s.
On Kashmir, he had a simple and no nonsense approach, weed out the leeches sucking the beauty of Kashmir. Although anarchic in his opinion, given what the terrorists are upto today in Kashmir Valley, Balasaheb’s opinion would have been the simplest option : A free hand to the armed forces, with shoot at sight for terrorists. If pinpointing the actual criminals of India is a crime in the eyes of pseudo liberals and intellectual terrorists, then yes, Balasaheb Thackeray would be one such proud criminal.
3. Balasaheb Thackeray was India’s Hitler, He hates MINORITIES:-
Even though he admired Hitler for his iron fist policies, Balasaheb Thackeray was never hostile towards the minorities. Even today, some of the Muslim families in Mumbai, especially those affected by the 1992 Bombay riots or 1993 Black Friday blasts, owe their allegiance to Balasaheb Thackeray and his Shiv Sena for their safety. What Balasaheb was actually against was the systematic pampering and undue privileges given to the minorities by pseudo secular intellectuals and lawmakers, making them unjust masters instead of equal Indians, as proposed in the Constitution. As reiterated by Justice Markandey Katju, In Balasaheb Thackeray’s eyes, secularism is not a ONE-WAY TRAFFIC. He even proved this in early 2000s, when post the Amarnath Yatra massacre, the terrorists openly challenged the Hindu devotees to step into Kashmir for the holy pilgrimage.
In response, Bal Thackeray said that if Hindus are not allowed at Amarnath, dare any Muslim try to step out from Maharashtra from Haj. True to his word, no Muslim could step out for the Haj pilgrimage, and eventually the terrorists had to give in. I doubt if any present leader, except for the likes of Narendra Modi & Manohar Parrikar, has such audacity to take the bullies on.
4. Balasaheb Thackeray supports the oppressors, never the Victims:-
Probably I’d be the last person to believe this nonsense, after I delved deep into Balasaheb’s stance on the victims. At a time, when the rest of India even refused to identify them as INDIANS, forget being victims, Balasaheb Thackeray openly announced his support to millions of stranded Kashmiri Pandits and Sikh refugees, who had suffered a lot in the Indian Holocausts of 1984 & 1990s. When others rejected them, the BJP [of that time] and Shiv Sena, led by Balasaheb Thackeray, welcomed them [the Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs] in Maharashtra with open arms. In that respect, Kashmiri Pandits were shocked when they knew of Balasaheb’s death. To quote one of the mourners, Balasaheb’s death has left us as an orphan. Again.
5. Balasaheb Thackeray has destroyed MUMBAI:-
On the contrary, Bal Thackeray did what no other politician had ever the guts to do, save Mumbai from becoming Kolkata. Today, the capital of Bengal is another name for despair, terror & anarchy, courtesy years of trade unionship and strikes, lockouts by terrorists. While in no way did Bal Thackeray support anarchism directly, he had meticulously trained Shiv Sena workers in such a way, that if needed, they could give a titfor tat to the vicious communists, whose sole aim was to paint Mumbai ‘red’. Had it not been for Bal Thackeray and his no nonsense approach to crime, probably Mumbai would have been another name for anarchy, just like Kolkata, with no industries, no jobs, and above all, no sense of security.
6. Balasaheb Thackeray hated DEVELOPMENT:-
If we relish the savoury snacks Maharashtra, especially it’s capital Mumbai is famous for, if we love the city of Mumbai for its’ nightlife, if we as students relish for their famous college festival, Mood Indigo, we owe an allegiance to Bal Thackeray.
Contrary to what others might say, it was Balasaheb Thackeray who openly endorsed the concert of pop star Michael Jackson, when he visited India in 1996, and sent his own nephew, Raj Thackeray, to escort the star personally to his hotel in Mumbai. Need I say more? Ironically, it is the secular Congress, who wanted a ban on Coldplay performing in Mumbai just the previous year.
Another interesting aspect of Bal Thackeray’s aspect is his ability to bounce back royally from the hardest of setbacks. In his quest to give Indian nationalism and alternative ideologies a credible say in the framework of Indian government, many an opportunist, like Chagan Bhujbal, Sanjay Nirupam, Narayan Rane, even his own nephew Raj Thackeray, ditched him for greener pastures. However, Bal Thackeray bounced back each time, undeterred and bold.
Every human has his own highs and lows, and it’s not necessary that everyone agrees to other’s views all the time. But to hound a person for changing India ideologically is certainly not the cup of tea for any sane Indian. It is really saddening to see the plight of Shiv Sena today, reduced to being the bootlickers of the same pseudo liberals Balasaheb once vociferously fought against.
He might have been high handed in many issues, true, but had it not been for Balasaheb Thackeray, the Hindu Hriday Samrat, it wouldn’t have taken long for India to become another oppressed Islamic colony, on the lines of Pakistan & Afghanistan.
Mumbai Fables, by Gyan Prakash
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