Raj Thackeray might be trying to look like Balasaheb by wearing a saffron robe and sporting a red tika on his forehead but he doesn’t share Babasaheb’s vision, in fact, he is busy selling his own ethics for power. Similarly, Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi looks like her grandmother, Indira Gandhi but people hardly vote for congress. Just looks are not enough to garner people’s mandate. Raj Thackeray was once loved for his individuality and uniqueness but his hate-mongering politics has not gone well with the common public.
The problem with Raj is he began preparing for the BMC elections wearing BJP’s sleeves. He has merely become a loudspeaker of the BJP to contest elections. With this approach of Raj, his party MNS is certainly not going to take any share but they may somewhat add to BJP’s marketing. BJP making him say all that they cannot say in public. BJP is still pretending to keep its agenda of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and using Raj Thackrey like failed politicians to invoke hate politics on their behalf.
He himself is responsible for his downfall because one fine morning he turns anti-Modi and next time anti others. Balasaheb would not have done such unwise things. He shares the same vote bank with Shiv Sena but his inconsistency costs him severely as he remains absent and does not have a voice in pan India. Raj Thackeray should engage with the people of Maharashtra and learn to be steady on his grounds. Shifting goalposts can damage his political fate irreparably.
People loved Raj Thackeray when fought with the government on key issues like overpopulation by immigrants, toll plaza loots, the Marathi language under threat, etc. but his agitation fizzled out without any conclusions. North Indians indeed have a humble attitude towards Marathi people and their culture. Raj Thackeray went venomous against them and now he changed his stand by getting into a religious scuffle. Muslim MNS members left Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, they were the fundraisers for his party. Raj not only lost the goodwill of people but also his credibility.
These days Raj Thackeray increasingly holds the country’s commercial and film capital to ransom in the name of either loudspeaker or Hindu pride. The most recent case was the way in which they threatened Muslims barging in mosques. As the nation wondered whether the MNS’ aggressive demonstrations to gag free speech and curb civil liberties were really about patriotism?
Speaking as a Marathi, born, living and voting every time in Maharashtra and knowing the mindset of the people around, I know that people support Uddhav more than Raj because of Balasaheb’s legacy, he is trustable and wouldn’t change his ideology or his stand for the people. To our surprise, Uddhav proved to be a good chief minister of the state. He never lost his calm or gave any hateful speeches, harmony and peace were his prime agenda and that is what common people want. Uddhav has the ability to give a sense of belongingness to the people of the state. Raj is a confused and tricky person with harsh speeches and hollow claims.
Shiv Sena was in alliance with BJP for almost three decades but they never lost their own uniqueness. Whereas Raj seemed egotistical and without any particular ideology. He changes his shades like a chameleon, you can never predict his political inclinations. Perhaps this is the reason people don’t take Raj Thackeray seriously. These days he is mastering the politics of hate.
In 2008-09, he targeted North Indians (people from UP and Bihar). It paid off for him and he won 13 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly election including 3 urban seats in Nashik. His party also won Nashik civic elections. But his party failed to give even minimum governance. There was such a fear among North Indian workers that thousands of workers reached Nashik railway station to leave the city. It was a very bad situation then. Now he is hell-bent on praising Yogi and taking a stand for BJP but has yet to apologize to North Indians.
After the north Indians, Raj’s hate target was the Gujarati community. Gujarati communities in cities of Western & Northern Maharashtra are very successful. Even PM Modi is a Gujarati. Raj Thackeray thought his hate-mongering against Gujarati speaking community can fetch him some votes in the 2019 elections. But the Gujarati speaking community which has a significant presence in Mumbai did not allow fortune for MNS. It is quite natural for such parties to target such communities for electoral benefits but we all know what kind of humiliation Raj and his party faced. MNS has no patriotic objective at all but still, Raj was regarded for his stand for the people. Unfortunately, in the recent past, he has become a tool in the hands of central powers by shedding his independence. Let’s see what unfolds for MNS in BMC elections.