While the Shiv Sena has always been at the forefront in demanding the hanging of Afzal Guru, now that it has happened, the party seems to have lost one of its political planks to further its Hindutva agenda.
Just last week when Sena president Uddhav Thackeray kicked off his statewide tour from Jalna, he had brought the Hindutva agenda back on the Sena map when he ticked off the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party chief Asaduddin Owaisi who was arrested following anti-Hindu hate speeches in Hyderabad.
But now, with Afzal Guru and terrorist Ajmal Kasab hanged, the Sena may need to look for new avenues to continue its Hindutva campaign.
On Saturday, hours after the hanging, Sena MP Sanjay Raut praised the government, albeit grudgingly. “The government has shown courage by taking this decision, which has come after a 10-12 year delay, at the cost of public money. But what option were they left with after falling flat on their face? On the one hand the Indian government is trying to discuss peace and on the other hand Pakistan attacks our troops at the border,” Raut said.
He said when president Pranab Mukherjee had met Sena chief Bal Thackeray during his presidential campaign, this was one of the issues discussed. “He had told the president not to grant Guru clemency,” Raut said.
While political experts do agree that this might mean one issue less for the Sena, they feel the party will turn the situation around. “The Sena will work this to its benefit and say the Congress has bent to fulfil Bal Thackeray’s demand for the hanging. There is a feeling that the Sena might now stay away from projecting Hindutva as an issue,” said political expert Surendra Jondhale.