Were the issue not so serious, we could be pardoned for thinking that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s outpourings in defence of his men attacking migrant workers from Bihar and UP are worthy of a schoolboy trying to get attention by being contrarian. It would appear that in his bid to carve out a niche in Maharashtra’s overcrowded political landscape and go one better than his uncle Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, not even a sharp censure from the Supreme Court will stop Raj Thackeray’s increasingly thin justification for the violence and mayhem he has unleashed. While the apex court has said it cannot interfere in law and order, it has come out heavily against Raj Thackeray’s attempts to ‘balkanise’ the country.
In a rambling and illogical fashion, the Balasaheb wannabe goes on about how all sorts of religious festivals are welcome in Maharashtra but not chhat pooja conducted mainly by Biharis. Could it be that he feels that the loyalties of UPites and Biharis are more with powerful political formations like the RJD and the BSP? His only crime is his love for Maharashtra, he tells us touchingly. But he is silent on how his ardour has harmed not only the social fabric of Mumbai but has caused enormous economic losses as migrants fled and property was destroyed. But what is most disturbing is his belief — similar, we must admit, to that of many of our political worthies — that he is above the law. He questions whether political movements need to obey the law and quotes the examples of LK Advani’s rath yatra and Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots. Both are hardly badges of honour. But where he should have drawn the line is in trying to equate his pathetic efforts with Gandhiji’s civil disobedience movement and that of the African National Congress. Either Raj Thackeray is extremely thick-skinned or terminally politically naïve to even raise these examples in the same breath as his deplorable actions in Mumbai, Pune and Nasik.
From the time he broke away from the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray has not come up with a single positive step to guide his followers and make life better for his beloved Maharashtrians. He has chosen to hit out at the weakest link in the chain and target those who cannot retaliate. This one-point agenda will get Raj Thackeray so far and no more. He speaks proprietorially of Maharashtra’s culture and identity. Which explains why he feels it is his right to singlehandedly destroy both.