An old slogan comes back to nibble Shiv Sena, their historical ‘Bajao Pungi-Hatao Lungi’ campaign launched by Bal Thackeray decades ago forced the present generation of Thackerays’ to change their stand against the South Indians. The presence of a large number of South Indian voters in Aaditya Thackeray’s constituency, Worli will be the deciding factor of his political fortunes time and again. To appease his voters, Aaditya was forced to sport a lungi (south Indian attire). Beyond that, now the Sena is advocating the inclusion of Tamil Hindu refugees in citizenship (Amendment) Bill. With time, Shiv Sena’s politics has changed from opposing South Indians in Maharashtra to now backing them.
In the Rajya, Sabha Shiv Sena attacked its former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the discussion on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) and staged a walkout ahead of the voting. The CAB will provide citizenship to persecuted minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis who got into India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Sena took a U-turn after the Congress imposed pressure ahead of the CAB debate in Rajya Sabha. It was learnt that the Congress might pull out of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra. In the Lok Sabha, Shiv Sena had supported the CAB as 18 of their MPs voted in favour of the bill.
In the 60’s when the Shiv Sena was formed, it had taken an aggressive stand against the South Indians. The party used to claim that South Indians were snatching the jobs in Mumbai. This political outfit was formed with an objective to provide justice to the sons of the soil. During the 60s and 70s the South Indians occupied jobs in Mumbai and government spaces thereby creating hatred among the local Marathi residents. The Sena which had released its first manifesto had completely opposed the presence of South Indians in Mumbai. The party also had given instructions against employing people from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Bal Thackeray had even opposed buying Tamil Nadu state lottery tickets. He also insulted them by calling them ‘Yendugendu wallahs”. With the passage of time, there was a shift in Sena’s stand against South Indians. In the year 2016, Sena was reported to have offered support to Siva Senai a Sri Lanka Hindu organisation opposing conversion to Buddhism. The party followed hardcore Hindutva ideology for expanding its foothold beyond Maharashtra.
The opposition has labelled the CAB as “unconstitutional” stating that the bill violates Article 14 of the Indian constitution. Moreover, the criticism largely focuses on the exclusion of the Muslims community in the CAB. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut pointed out that the bill doesn’t have any provisions for Tamil Hindu refugees from Sri Lanka. However, along with him, public figures including Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Kamal Haasan have highlighted the struggle of Tamil Hindus refugees who escaped the persecution in Sri Lanka.
It is interesting to note that Sena which once ran a campaign against South Indians, especially Tamils, in Maharashtra is now highlighting the plight of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.