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Shiv Sena isn't keeping its Hindutva politics in sealed cover, yet seeks to ‘act’ secular

Uddhav Thackeray, Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar
By Adv Masood Peshimam*
The swearing of Uddhav Thackrey as Maharashtra chief minister has signaled an end of the stalemate in the government formation in the state, but it did not arouse much of applause and excitement in certain predominant Maharashtrian areas like Kalyan and Thane. The Shiv Sena for the very first time agreed that secular values could be part of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP).
Thackrey’s quest to integrate secular values is not liked by certain quarters, which were equally well disposed towards the Sena. Embracing secular values has not been the cup of tea for the Thackray clan, which now faces a poignant moment with the new-found love for secular values.
Facing the implausible situation with his hardcore followers adhering to communal politics, Uddhav Thackray has, of course, tried to dilute the impact of his alliance with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine. Even as asserting his adherence to the tenets of secularism, Uddhav Thackray said, Hindutva ideology is quite indispensable to the Shiv Sena, which could not be discarded.
It is believed that the statement is dictated by political compulsions. It is more directed towards BJP rather than to the Congress-NCP combine, which would need to be prevented from appropriating the vast chunk of Hindutva votes. Uddhav Thackrey can’t keep his Hindutva in the sealed cover, since it is this alone which catapulted him into power.
Relations between the Shiv Sena with the Congress have a history. In fact, the Shiv Sena owes its existence to the Congress. In the sixties, the Congress faced increasing influence of Leftist trade unions. The growing influence of Leftist trade unions in particular and the labour movement in general had its impact on elections.
The Congress faced such a tough electoral scenario that the uncrowned king of the then Bombay, SK Patil, had to bite the dust at the hands of George Fernandes. The Congress felt it necessary to checkmate the Leftist influence in Bombay. The birth and nourishment of the Sena was promoted as a tool to combat this trade union influence.
Primarily, the Shiv Sena took up the cause of sons of the soil against south Indians with the narrative that the south Indians, well equipped with English, had occupied much of space in the realm of employment at the cost of the locals. The campaign ignited animosity against the south Indians.
The movement to protect the interests of the sons of the soil led to fascination for the Sena among the locals. With the passage of time, the Sena backed by the Congress, particularly late VP Naik, and thus struck deep roots in the state. The Shiv Sena successfully played the outsider card to enhance its strength and clout.
The ever growing clout of the Sena with the alleged softness of the police led to a situation in which migrants felt threatened. But it was communal politics which offered even greener pastures than the anti-migrant stance. Hence, given the later dynamics of the situation, the Sena joined hands with the saffron shade of politics. The Sena was transformed from an anti-migrant entity into a deeply communal entity.
Bal Thackeray with Indira Ga ndhi
The Congress not only gave birth to the Sena but gave it a kid glove treatment concerning its alleged role in the post-Babri communal violence that rocked Mumbai. The Justice Sri Krishna Commission indicted the role of the Sena and the Mumbai police. Recommendations of the Sri Krishna Commission were taken casually. The Congress ignored inconvenient facts, and the recommendations of the commission were reduced to a child’s play.
While the Congress promoted the fortunes of the Sena, and at times defended it, the Sena deemed it convenient to politically flirt with BJP and remained partners with the saffron party in the Maharashtra government. Yet, the Sena, despite remaining in government, had the cheek to criticize the BJP government for its acts of commission and omission.
The Sena continued to stone the BJP government despite living under the same political roof. Raj Thackray continued to be ruthless in attacking the BJP government. Series of his speeches focused on building a case against the BJP government at the Centre and the state. Raj Thackrey kept swinging the pendulum against BJP at the instance of Sharad Pawar. Thus, Raj Thackray remains the only cock in the farmyard.
Now the BJP-Sena imbroglio has given way to the formation of the Sena-Congress-NCP government, it is expected of the Sena to play a somewhat secular card, despite its assertiveness of the Hindutva brand of politics not to discomfort other partners, who very much depend on secular votes, though their secularism is more of opportunistic than ideological, but a lesser evil.
---
*Based in Kalyan West, Maharashtra

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