Unlike many politicians, Raj Thackeray is not hitting headlines with his comments on issues. But when he does speak, it is stuff controversies are made of. Whether it is his support for the accused in the Juhu molestation case on New Year’s eve or his latest verbal attack on north Indians, the 39-year-old chief of the MNS has always kicked up controversies.
In many aspects, such as these, Raj is like his uncle. Bal Thackeray, who the commercial arts graduate from JJ School of Arts considers his ‘god’, has been his inspiration to join politics. Son of a musician, Raj grew up watching his uncle give shape to the Shiv Sena. He later spearheaded attacks on “outsiders”.
A cartoonist, just like his uncle, Raj also displayed the wit, body language and aggression his uncle is known for. He was, thus, looked at as the man who would take over the Sena’s reins but he eventually lost the job to his cousin, Uddhav. Unhappy, he quit the Sena in November 2005 and floated the MNS in early 2006.
The party was barely 11 months old when it contested the civic elections but won 7 seats in Mumbai, 12 in Nashik, 8 in Pune and made its presence felt in other civic bodies.
Once known as one of the few politicians to have travelled across the state, Thackeray encouraged his men to discard all things Sena — red tikkas, gold chains and touching his feet. He spoke of dreaming of farmers dressed in jeans and agriculture being modernised.
But, he has gone back to his roots. He has, time and again, reiterated his stand on the sons of the soil issue. “A Marathi manoos is someone who has been living in Maharashtra for generations together, knows the language and follows the law of the land,” he had said last year. “Those who harass the Marathi manoos will be thrashed even if they are autowallahs, taxiwallahs and bhajiwallahs (vegetable vendors).”
Thackeray, obviously, stands by what he said then.