After Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who is also the editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, had famously questioned whether Atal Ji’s death was announced late so that PM Modi could deliver his speech on 15th August without any disruption. He asked this question in an article in Marathi titled: “What is Swarajya?”. Sanjay Raut wrote, “Rather than our people, our rulers should first understand what is ‘swarajya’ (self-rule). Vajpayee died on 16 August, but from 12-13 August, his condition was deteriorating. To avoid national mourning and lowering of flag to half-mast on Independence Day, and also (because) Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to make his elaborate speech from the Red Fort, Vajpayee left this world on 16 August (or his death was announced).”
Needless to say that Raut was criticized for this tasteless statement. But if we analyse closely, this is not the first time Raut said something that enraged the nation. It has been a part of Raut’s long list of misadventures.
Raut has been the editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamana and had been a part of Uddhav Thackeray’s inner coterie. Perhaps Raut and his antics were diluted when Bal Thackeray was around. Today, the Sena stands in a precarious situation post Bal Thackeray’s demise and Sanjay Raut has firmly established himself as the most prominent influencer in the Sena core team.
Sanjay Raut has been an admixture of many politicians and strategists. He is wily like Amar Singh and has the necessary arrogance of Sharad Yadav. Until now the barbs laid by Sanjay Raut or the Sena chief was mostly pertaining to their ill misgivings against the BJP.
Sanjay Raut had even praised Congress scion Rahul Gandhi and deemed him capable of running the nation adding that the Modi wave is losing its sheen. Along with the qualities of Amar Singh or Sharad Yadav, Raut has even now imbibed the qualities of Digvijay Singh, the political mentor of Rahul Gandhi.
Although Sena had made such statements in the past, this one was more damaging to its prestige in terms of supporting the Congress. Sanjay Raut and his consolidation in the Sena had started to hurt their prospects in the long run. Now Raut controlled Shiv Sena is mulling over joining forces with the NCP and the Congress party. What Raut and his advisees tend to forget is the fact that Sena was a guerilla party which catered aggressively to the Marathi Manoos cause and later to Hindutva. Joining NCP and Congress will surely take away this glare from the Sena which now will conform to pseudo secularist policies.
Even subtly going away from the Hindutva and Nationalist cause, that the BJP is the only party that represents, might alienate their existing aggressive cadre. This may also make the youth join BJP as then it will remain the only party which will cater to the Hindutva and nationalistic cause. This will severely dent Senas organizational prowess and make it more vulnerable to lose ground. The party has already lost a lot of ground at the grass root level and the rural areas.
If the Sena becomes loosely connected to its cadre and workers, it may create defections in the future. BJP MP Sanjay Kakade’s statement about 45 Sena MPs in touch with the BJP hints precisely at that.
Sena needs the BJP to survive in the state. Nitish Kumar realized that and his political fortunes were salvaged as he came back to the NDA fold. Sanjay Raut and his barbs are hurting the alliance to take it to a new low every day and his NCP-Congress threatswill further plummet the relations at a certain point of no return. During the 1990s, it was the BJP which needed the Sena and this was realized by somebody like Pramod Mahajan who imbibed smoothness in the relations in lieu with ideology and respect. Sanjay Raut needs to take a leaf out of the same as Sena badly needs the BJP now in reality to gather all the lost ground.
Once Devendra Fadnavis famously pointed, Sena cannot be in the govt and opposition both. It’s imperative for political brains to instill sense rather than court foolhardiness and this is something which Sanjay Raut needs to understand. Amit Shah is despised by the Sena but they should learn something from him. The modern day Chanakaya has played his cards well and taken BJP to an astounding dominance. If Sena wants to emerge again in Maharashtra, it needs to shed its new damaging image and leaders like Sanjay Raut need to ponder rather than evoking fresh barbs every now and then.