Having failed at governing a state by usurping power through entering an unholy alliance with former ideological opponents NCP and Congress, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is trying to reinvigorate the ‘Marathi Pride’ and ‘son of soil’ rhetoric among Maharashtrians. A party which backstabbed the BJP and formed a government in the state despite not having the people’s mandate has now taken to its mouthpiece to doll out editorials on how ‘outsiders’ are conspiring to defame Mumbai city, and by implication, Marathis.
The Saamana editorial by Sanjay Raut is a desperate attempt by the Shiv Sena to portray Uddhav Thackeray as an inheritor of Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy, although he seems to be working overtime to destroy the same. References to “son of the soil” at multiple places stand as a testimony to the fact that Sena is losing the plot, and is resorting to the same old tried and tested sub-nationalism to keep itself, and whatever little political fortunes of it remain, afloat.
But Uddhav is no Balasaheb Thackeray. Sanjay Raut seems pretty hurt because Uddhav has been referred to as “tu”, and that a more respectable pronoun was not used for the “Chief Minister of Maharashtra”. Uddhav needs to deploy his minions to demand respect for him, and that is enough proof that he is no Balasaheb. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government has been an unmitigated disaster for the state of Maharashtra, and it is quite ironic that those who allowed Mumbai to be consumed by the pandemic are today lecturing ‘outsiders’ as to why they should not dare speak about Mumbai or Maharashtra, by which they mean, not speaking against the Shiv Sena. Meanwhile, Pune has also been allowed to be ravaged by the pandemic.
Shiv Sena thinks it is synonymous to Maharashtra. We’d love to break it to them that they are not. How Maharashtra has been struggling with the pandemic even as a helpless government watches on is proof enough of how the Shiv Sena has lost the right to pretend to be standing up for Maharashtra and its people. That it is still doing so is quite hilarious. The Shiv Sena is attempting to create a divide, as usual, between the Marathis and ‘outsiders’, accusing the latter of hatching conspiracies to defame Mumbai.
The government in Maharashtra, led by Shiv Sena, has, off late, diverted all its energies towards matters which require no interference from their side. What’s worse, the Uddhav-led government has been caught on the wrong side of these matters too, almost always. On the case of two Hindu sadhus being lynched mercilessly to death by a blood-thirsty mob in a Maoist and Missionary-infested region, the Sena government has taken to vociferously oppose a CBI investigation. While it claims that the culprits are being dealt with, it seems least interested in further probing the case. Would Balasaheb Thackeray have tolerated this shameful behaviour of a government in which his party is the leader?
When it comes to Bollywood, the Uddhav-led Sena is again found on the wrong side, defending insiders of the industry, like it has its own skin in the game. In the case relating to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, the Sena government again was rigorously contesting a transfer of probe to the CBI from the Mumbai Police. Why both Rhea Chakraborty and the Maharashtra government wanted the investigations to be conducted by Mumbai Police alone and not and other agency is not known yet.
How an entire government and administrative machinery has been unleashed upon film star Kangana Ranaut barely because she spoke her mind on a multiplicity of issues, stands as a glaring example of how those who exercise freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution of India will be hounded in the state for as long as the current government remains in office. Such is the state of affairs that a close confidante of the Thackerays goes on to hurl expletives at a woman, while the administration entertains itself by demolishing her office which they claim to be “illegal”.
How the Mumbai Police did not extend its cooperation with their counterparts from Bihar and dealt with them in an unprofessional manner is known to all in any case. What is more shameful, however, is the fact that individuals who are today invoking ‘Marathi pride’ and calling upon the sons of the soil to strive for Maharashtra’s dignity are the ones who disrespected Sushant Singh Rajput’s family, for only wanting justice for their son.
On Friday, goons of the Shiv Sena led by its leader Kamlesh Kadam physically assaulted a Navy veteran for merely sharing a WhatsApp forward on Uddhav Thackeray. The 62-year old retired officer sustained grievous injuries to the eye. Sanjay Raut, while almost defending his party goons, called the violence a ‘spontaneous outburst’. Meanwhile, journalists of Republic TV are being jailed in the state for doing their job, and cable operators are being asked by the Shiv Sena to stop the broadcast of Republic TV. Earlier, a man was tonsured by Sena goons for a post of his on Uddhav Thackeray.
These are some of the few reasons why Uddhav Thackeray has lost whatever little popularity and respect he commanded in the state. It is almost as if the Shiv Sena is proudly exhibiting power by harassing citizens of the state who do not toe the ruling party’s line. Naturally, people are frustrated with their rule. As a consequence, the Sena is once again turning to sub-nationalism and ‘Bhoomi putras’ for attempting a face-saver. Sadly, there is no saving Shiv Sena here on.