In the Thackeray cousins’ — Raj and Uddhav — fight for the Marathi vote, Bollywood is caught in the middle.
With Raj taking on Jaya Bachchan for what he called an insult to Maharashtrians, his uncle Bal Thackeray, Uddhav’s father, picked on Shah Rukh Khan for calling himself a "Dilliwala" through the party mouthpiece.
<b1>Jaya asking Maharashtrians to forgive her for speaking in Hindi at a music release on Saturday gave Raj, head of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), an opportunity to again target her family and rake up the 'Maharashtra for Maharashtrians’ issue.
The Shiv Sena attacked another superstar. "Mumbai made Khan a badshah [king], but he still calls himself a Dilliwala. If that is the case, why did you come to Mumbai?” said an editorial in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece, on Tuesday. It also warned Jaya and Khan “not to test Maharashtrians’ patience”.
The Bachchans and Khan, like other North Indian migrants, are caught in the battle for Marathi votes.
“Raj is trying to explore the political space open to him,” said Surendra Jondhale, head of the Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai. “The votes of the large Marathi-speaking population are crucial. When Raj says these things, he is just trying to corner that political niche. The Sena will be forced to talk the same language if Raj gets a response.”
On Monday, Saamna carried a story on Jaya’s statement with strong political reactions, hours before Raj threatened to disallow screenings of films starring the Bachchans.
As MNS activists defaced film and advertisement posters featuring the Bachchans, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil — who also holds the Home portfolio — said the police would examine statements of both Raj and Jaya and decide whether any
legal action could be taken against either.
MNS activists also filed cases against Jaya across the state, accusing her of hurting their sentiments.
Jaya did not react publicly, but a Mumbai daily quoted her offering an apology.