The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) started the membership enrolment drive on Sunday where the citizens are given an option to do the process even online. This process has been initiated in view of the 2022 Mumbai civic polls. Similarly, Shiv Sena has also started its membership drive.
The MNS, which is currently in low phase, has turned towards Hindutva and is trying to fill the vacuum left by its rival Shiv Sena. Thackeray has been holding meetings with his party leaders and workers in view of the local civic elections to be held across the state. On the other hand, Aditya Thackrey is going places to places and holding public rallies. Both are talking on similar lines and this time Hindutva is above all on political agenda.
Both the political stalwarts are born in radical families that used Hindutva agenda as a tool to politics. Power is only one religion they believed very strongly. To get in depth, Hinduism is secular, Shiv Sena does not reject a constitution which is secular. Hinduism recognizes all religions as different paths to God. Hinduism gives freedom of faith to Hindus. Right from the inception Shiv Sena has been a secular party. Hindutva or secularism are only matters to woo the people with the main principle being to grab power. Power is the main and only aim of all the politicians. Principles are only the faces to be shown to people.
The Bombay of the 1960s was part of a state that had just been born after a deadly linguistic reorganization of borders. Then the newly restructured state, however, was caught in a curious economic condition. While industrial growth and employment opportunities rose in the state in significant ways, there was a parallel increase in the number of job seekers. It was Bombay, particularly, that was caught in this battle, with the city witnessing a phenomenal increase in the number of university graduates, with not as many jobs for them to cash on.
In these circumstances of pressure on the part of the educated Maharashtrian youth, there arose a weekly cartoon, the Marmik or “straight from the heart”, that put across in the most pungent and cynical way, the woes of the “Marathi Manoos”. Bal Thackeray embraced Hindutva as a strategy because the politics on the issues of Marathi-speakers was not paying off.
In 1985, Bal Thackeray understood that Marathi is a good cause for popularity, but it does not have elective merits. On the plank of Marathi, you cannot win elections across nations. Then he came up with Hindutva. So, it was a well-calculated move and he embraced Hindutva…and won the successive elections. Since then, Bala Saheb’s outfits became saffron, he started sporting tilak, he was wearing Rudraksh around neck and hand. This complete saffron makeover became overnight popular among Hindutva zealots.
Eventually Shiv Sena never had a core Hindutva agenda and that is the reason there was no point in attacking Uddhav for abandoning the ideology. On the other hand, Raj had a gift on a Platter, what is left in Hindutva for other parties to cash in; he has molded it to his advantage by changing the symbol of his political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. BJP has already got the credit of being the savior of Hindutva and hence no other parties will get credit on the basis of Hindutva any more.
Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena started his political career with Marathi agenda and later on took up Hindutva agenda. Marathi agenda and Hindutva agenda are not contradictory. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj established Hindu Rashtra by fighting the Mughal during the Mughal period. Lokmanya Tilak who gave the slogan of “freedom is my birth right” and who was a Maharashtrian, was an advocate of Hindutva ideology. Bal Thackeray was called Hindu Hridaya Samrat or King of Hindu Hearts. So, loyalty of Raj Thackeray to Hindutva ideology remains unquestionable.
Shiv Sena’s alliance with the secular parties was an experiment motivated by the need to teach BJP a lesson. The two cousins have completely lost their credibility and nothing will help them, no matter how much they try. They should understand Maharashtra politics has changed making two of them irrelevant. Uddhav Thackeray joined hands with congress and NCP and miserably shunted out of power. Raj Thackeray campaigned for congress during the 2019 elections. Raj Thackeray’s politics of dadagiri was having tacit support from congress. It helped Congress to divide the votes of Shiv Sena and thereby rule Maharashtra for 15 years from 1999 to 2014. After the BJP Government came to power the clout of Raj Thackeray declined.
The core vote bank of Shiv Sena is Marathi Manoos and Hindutva supporters. The Raj party also eyed for this vote Bank concentrating more on Marathi Manoos. Since Shiv Sena is allying with Congress it’s Hindutva votes will fade away. That is what MNS is eyeing for. But since BJP has a firm grip on Hindutva reliability, MNS will get nothing. Lot of Marathi Manoos are also Hindutva sensitive and thus that will also go with BJP. Only a small fraction of regional Marathi interest votes will be divided among SS, MNS and NCP. Here NCP will have a better chance to fare as it will also get Muslim votes. Thus, the scope of the both Thackeray parties are set to decimate whenever elections.