Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray on Saturday said that his party would not mind if the youth celebrated Valentine's Day. He was speaking at a joint meeting of party workers from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
“It is an individual question. These things go on in colleges,” Raj said.
Thackeray’s statement marks a significant departure from the stand of the Shiv Sena, the party in which he was a leading figure till differences with cousin Uddhav Thackeray prompted him to part ways nearly a year back.
The Shiv Sena headed by his uncle, Bal Thackeray, has over the years consistently opposed St Valentine’s Day as a foreign cultural import.
The MNS chief felt there was no reason for people to fear for Indian culture, which has remained undamaged even after several years of invasions.
Apparently making fun of the idea of targeting a particular day in the calendar, he remarked that Valentine’s Day could even be celebrated all 365 days of the year if one wished.
Dropping several hints that he was not in agreement with certain views championed by the Shiv Sena, the breakaway Thackeray was at the same time careful not to alienate anybody, and certainly not those party workers who like him may have at one time been devout Shiv Sainiks.
Placed on the dais were a bust of Shivaji Maharaj, photographs of Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule and Prabodhankar Thackeray, father of Bal Thackeray.
Thackeray, who says he still respects his uncle, a few months back agreed not to use the picture of the Shiv Sena chief after he objected.
Thackeray appealed to party workers to think logically, like knowing who was St Valentine. “What could be a better way of celebrating friendship than on Makar Sankranti,” he said.
He asked party workers to observe their own festivals instead of criticising those of others.
He had similar words to say on the border dispute with Karnataka. Thackeray said the government should take good care of the territory it has in its possession instead of wanting more. “We are converting our own area into a desert, why should we ask for more?” he said.
Thackeray was also critical about Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray’s remarks that a combination of colours do not form any party.
“The person who does not know a party is built by joining people should not talk about colours,” he said. “If the same logic is used, even the national flag can be criticised.”
Thackeray also had a word for his party workers. “I have not formed the party for the sake of elections,” he warned, adding that office-bearers who did not perform would not be excused.