At a time when the Shiv Sena is being panned left, right and centre and rightly so, one man has been conspicuous by his stoic silence. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray who rebranded his political outfit in January in an attempt to claim Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva legacy, appears to have gone into hibernation. The fact that Raj Thackeray has squandered a golden opportunity to corner the Shiv Sena has raised quite a few eyebrows in the state.
Ever since its formation, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has positioned itself as a Maratha centric party, which after initial success in Nagpur, has fizzled out into oblivion with the party choosing to not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
After vociferously campaigning against the BJP and flirting with the Sharad Pawar led NCP, Raj Thackeray-led MNS was at the crossroads after securing only a single seat in the Maharashtra elections. Shiv Sena’s backstabbing of the BJP and choosing to ally with the INC and NCP meant Shiv Sena to shed its Hindutva ideology as political collateral to make Uddhav Thackeray the Chief Minister.
Raj Thackeray wasted no time to fill the vacuum left by the Shiv Sena and rebranded the MNS from its previously Maratha-centric outlook to now a party perceivably committed to Hindutva in a huge rally on January 23. Thackeray was going from strength to strength as his comments on the CAA were particularly well received on the right side of Indian politics and he continued to pan the Maharashtra government during the initial phase of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
However, at a time when the Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena is arguably facing one of its toughest challenges, the man who left the Shiv Sena in 2006, is raising eyebrows by his silence. So why is Raj Thackeray silent?
Perhaps one of the reasons could be the fact that Raj Thackeray also shares friendly relations with the bigwigs of Bollywood due to his time with the Shiv Sena. The cordial relations within the Bollywood has perhaps stopped Raj Thackeray to give his two cents on the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation or the vendetta politics played out by the Shiv Sena against Kangana Ranaut – who despite being a Bollywood actor is fiercely anti-Bollywood.
Another reason could be the fact that there has been a thaw between the cousins, Raj and Uddhav Thackeray and he might want to capture the Shiv Sena’s core voter base, and he would certainly not want the party to be obliterated.
Make no mistake, the mess that the Shiv Sena finds itself is of the Thackerays own making. Raj Thackeray wouldn’t have refrained from attacking the Maharashtra government, but attacking the Shiv Sena is a different thing altogether. It is well known that Aaditya Thackeray is close to the heart of Raj Thackeray and perhaps taking a pro-CBI stance in the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput would have put Aaditya in a spot.
It is obvious that had the crisis which is being experienced by Maharashtra been the making of the Maha Vikas Aghadi as a whole, Raj Thackeray would have wasted no time in putting the state government in a spot with his sharp retorts. However, this time around, the buck stops at Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray which perhaps explains Raj Thackeray’s silence.