Both the political stalwarts are born in radical families that used the Hindutva agenda as a tool for politics. Power is only one religion they believed very strongly. To get in-depth, Hinduism is secular, Shiv Sena does not reject a secular constitution. Hinduism recognizes all religions as different paths to God. Hinduism gives freedom of faith to Hindus. Right from its inception, Shiv Sena has been a secular party. Hindutva or secularism are the only matters to woo the people with the main principle being to grab power. Power is the main and only aim of all 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 was 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, Balasaheb’s outfits became saffron, he started sporting tilak, he was wearing Rudraksha 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, which is left in Hindutva for other parties to cash in; he has moulded it to his advantage by changing the symbol of his political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. BJP has already got the credit of being the saviour of Hindutva and hence no other parties will get credit based on Hindutva any more.
Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena started his political career with the Marathi agenda and later on took up the 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 birthright” and who was a Maharashtrian, was an advocate of Hindutva ideology. Bal Thackeray was called Hindu Hridaya Samrat or King of Hindu Hearts. So, the 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. Uddhav Thackrey is working under congress and NCP rule. 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 Thackrey declined.
The core vote bank of Shiv Sena is Marathi Manoos and Hindutva supporters. Raj’s party also eyed for this vote Bank concentrating more on Marathi Manoos. Since Shiv Sena is allying with Congress its Hindutva votes will fade away. That is what MNS is eyeing. But since BJP has a firm grip on Hindutva credibility MNS will get nothing. A lot of Marathi Manoos is 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 both Thackeray parties is set to decimate whenever elections happen.
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