Bala Saheb Thackeray, an unapologetic Hindu leader owns a legacy that cannot and should not be forgotten. Generally, the kins take forward the legacy of family patriarchs, but the case of Shiv Sena is somewhat different. Hardline Hindu leader Bal Thackeray’s son, the CM of Maharastra Uddhav Thackeray has aligned with the ‘secular parties’ leaving space for Raj Thackeray to claim the legacy of the renowned Hindu Hriday Samrat Bal Keshav Thackeray.
Raj Thackeray’s Loudspeaker Campaign
Raj Thackeray has garnered media attention with his loudspeaker campaign. After masjids, Raj Thackeray’s Maharastra Navnirman Sena (MNS) played Hanuman Chalisa in front of Shiv Sena headquarters in Dadar. With this move, Raj Thackeray is not only claiming giant Hindu leader Bala Saheb’s legacy but is also showing Shiv Sena’s patriarch Uddhav Thackeray his place.
Raj Thackeray just before the BMC elections waged a war against the installation of loudspeakers in masjids and Raj Thackeray had himself warned to play Hanuman Chalisa if the volumes were not turned down during Azaan. On the occasion of GudiPadwa, Thackeray said while addressing his cadre, “I am not ‘dharma-andha’. I am not against prayers. Don’t trouble others. I would say that loudspeakers must go from now. It is troublesome at 5 am. Why do you need loudspeakers? Which religion says loudspeakers need to be used? See other countries. In case, loudspeakers are used, ensure that Hanuman Chalisa is played twice the volume (of azaan) outside the mosques that use loudspeakers.”
The MNS cadre however went on to play the Hanuman Chalisa outside Sena Bhavan. Mumbai Police confiscated the vehicles and detained the 4 people including MNS leaders and party workers indulged in this activity.
Before this, the MNS had also put up posters across the city claiming MMNS chief Raj Thackeray as the real inheritor of Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva legacy. The posters accused CM Uddhav Thackeray of not allowing the public chanting of Hanuman Chalisa and expressed hope that Shiv Sena founder Bala Saheb will drill some sense into the father-son duo running the Shiv Sena.
Raj Thackeray has gone full throttle with his loudspeaker jibe at masjids and many are witnessing it as a step to reclaim BalaSaheb’s Hindutva legacy.
Bal Thackeray: A Maratha Manus who went on to become a Hindu Hriday Samrat
Bal Keshav Thackeray was born to Keshav Sitaram Thackeray. Due to this, he got an early exposure to regional politics as his father was a leading figure in the SamyuktaMaharastra movement, which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state for Marathi-speaking people.
Bal Thackeray’s journey was marked by the inauguration of Marmik. Marmik espoused the cause of the Marathi manus and campaigned against the growing influence of non-Marathi people in the state.
He milked the popularity gained by Marmik and founded Shiv Sena, claiming it to be the revival of Shivaji’s army symbolized by a fierce roaring tiger. Initially, Shiv Sena did not claim its stake in politics, but soon Thackeray facilitated its entry into politics building upon the cause of local unemployed youth, discrimination against the Marathis, erosion of pride of the Marathi community among others.
Known for his oratory skills and tough stance, BalaSaheb carved out a niche for himself in politics when ‘secular politics’ was thought of as the mainstream. Bal Thackeray had an opinion on everything from films to art and spoke against everything that he deemed against the Indian culture. The way he openly supported the Babri demolition is known to everyone,
This made him the firebrand Hindutva face, but he faced a lot of personal turmoil starting in 1995. This made him drift away from politics and his youngest son Uddhav Thackeray was heralded as the future of Shiv Sena. This created a feud between the Thackeray family and Raj Thackeray, the nephew separated and formed his own political outfit. Raj Thackeray owned a similar ideology as of BalaSaheb and hence is often identified as the real successor of his legacy.
Raj Thackeray is claiming the legacy of BalaSaheb
Bal Thackeray was a vocal critic of ‘secular politics’ and the irony today is that Shiv Sena is sitting on the lap of Congress. Shiv Sena patriarch Uddhav Thackeray has totally forgotten the politics of his father. The Shiv Sena which criticized dynastic politics has Bal Thackeray’s grandson Aditya has been assigned the ministerial berth.
There is an ideological void created by Shiv Sena’s alliance with Congress, and after Raj Thackeray’s aggressive campaign it seems that he is ready to claim the space vacated for Hindutva and son of soil politics. It should not be missed that Raj’s political guru was BalaSaheb himself, and he is the legitimate inheritor of Bal Thackeray’s legacy.
Raj Thackeray is already more than 10 years late and this time it seems he is in no mood to miss this opportunity and his ‘loudspeaker campaign’ can be seen in this light.