Life comes at you fast and words come to haunt you. This adage can be used to perfectly summarize Shiv Sena and its dribbly-wobbly political stance. For years, the supposed ‘Hindutva’ party led by Late Bala Saheb Thackeray reduced the migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar working in Maharashtra to second-grade, caricature citizens. They were beaten, chased down, and called names, just for their purvanchali identity. Shiv Sena did not want them in their backyard and continued their racist identities towards them.
However, the Thackreys who mistreated Purvanchalis are now begging and serenading the same lot. Reportedly, Shiv Sena scion Aditya Thackeray on Thursday attended a public meeting in Dumariyagang assembly seat in Siddharthnagar district, UP to campaign for its candidate Shailedra alias Raju Shrivastav.
Aditya cleverly tried to present Shiv Sena as a party for the masses. He even tried to whitewash Bal Thackeray’s ideology which hated outsiders. Aditya said, “Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray always said politics should be for the welfare of the people. This is reflected in the politics of Shiv Sena. Governance is not about religion, but about the welfare of the people,”
Moreover, Aditya evoked Bhagwan Shri Ram to make his party more palatable to the Purvanchalis, “The BJP never fulfilled the promises it made, but only spread hatred and fear. It only talks about the state being in danger. This is the land of Shri Ram. There is no danger here,”
Reportedly, Shiv Sena is looking to grow outside Maharashtra and has picked Uttar Pradesh as the destination to do so. Shiv Sena had fielded 60 candidates in the Uttar Pradesh elections. However, 41 are in the fray as the Election Commission rejected the candidature of as many as 19.
It was in 1966 that Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena in Mumbai with a strong anti-migrant agenda, accusing North Indians and South Indians of allegedly snatching jobs from locals in Mumbai and depriving them of the opportunities. More than 50 years later, Shiv Sena is taking a full 180 on his stance.
Take Shiv Sena’s Volta face with a pinch of salt
However, one needs to take Shiv Sena’s newfound love for Purvanchali people with a pinch of salt. The love is purely political and seasonal. The party is not likely to win any seat in the assembly polls and will surely go back to its anti-Purvanchali rhetoric to brainwash the Marathi community.
Shiv Sena and its magazine Saamna has had an illustrious history of punching down the UP’ites and Biharis. Known for its strident ‘son-of-the-soil rhetoric’, the magazine had lambasted the then chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, for lauding the contribution of North Indians to Mumbai.
Claiming that Marathi people are first among equals, an article published in Saamana said, “Marathi people have the first right and claim over Mumbai. The statement by Fadnavis is an insult to Maharashtra.”
Similarly, after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari raised the concern of the growing population in the city of Mumbai and Pune, Saamana turned it around on the Purvanchalis. In its editorial, Saamana slammed the UP and Bihar governments for the “re-migration” of workers from the respective states.
In 2012, current Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, too, had raked up the demand of having a ‘permit’ to check the influx of Bihari migrants in Mumbai.
Ek Bihar Sau Bimar – Saamna in 2008
It is also pertinent to note that Saamana also published an article titled “Ek Bihar Sau Bimar” on the attacks against North Indians a month later in March 2008. The title was a wordplay on “Ek Bihari, Sau pe Bihari”
The dreadful article read as follows, “Biharis are an unwanted lot in all parts of the country. They are not wanted in south India, Assam and Punjab and Chandigarh and have antagonised the local population wherever they have settled.”
Shiv Sena understands its fate
Shiv Sena is dipping its hands outside Maharashtra in the hope that it manages to create a separate identity. However, ever since the party collaborated with parties like NCP and Congress, compromising on its Hindutva ideology, the loyalists are fuming.
Shiv Sena understands that it may not be coming to power again and thus it is looking to expand and diversify the portfolio. However, the vitriol espoused by its present and past leaders against North Indians is coming to haunt the party. The Purvanchali people will return the favour by helping Siv Sena lose its deposit on all 41 seats.