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Saffron meets red: When Shiv Sena supported the Left

As the farmers’ march organized by Communist Party of India (M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha entered Mumbai waiving the red flags on Sunday, Shiv Sena declared its support to them.

mumbai Updated: Mar 13, 2018 01:42 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Maharashtra politcis,saffron
Farmers stand in queue to take free medicines at Azad Maidan on Monday.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

It was quiet an irony: The saffron greeting the red.

As the farmers’ march organized by Communist Party of India (M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha entered Mumbai waiving the red flags on Sunday, Shiv Sena declared its support to them.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son and party youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray made it a point to visit the farmers’ march and expressed his party’s support to them. In Thane and Mumbai, Sena workers distributed food and water to the participants of the march. Aaditya even posted a picture of Sena workers nursing the wounds of the farmers who had blisters on their feet and said he was proud of them.

This is in sharp contrast to the Sena’s history with the Left. The party’s enmity with the Left is well-known in Maharashtra’s political circles. In the Sena’s initial years in late Sixties and early Seventies, Mumbai witnessed clashes between the workers of the Left outfits and the Shiv Sena. Often, Sena’s critics used to allege that the party was being encouraged by the Congress leaders such as then chief minister Vasantrao Naik to counter the Left parties and unions affiliated to them. It was alleged that they wanted to cut the Left to size in Mumbai and as such used the Sena for the same. Legendary Marathi litterateur Acharya Atre used to taunt Sena as `Vasant Sena’ in his Marathi newspaper.

Central Mumbai which had a large working class population witnessed violence as Sena tried to wrest control of the area from the Left parties. In June 1970, Krishna Desai, a Communist Party of India legislator from Parel, was murdered and the fingers were pointed at Sena. In the following years, Sena became a dominant political force in Mumbai while the influence of the Left parties faded away. The bitterness between the two sides remained for a long time.

Little wonder, the Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Monday noted: `Though we have differences of opinion, the contribution of Left outfits in Samyukta Maharashtra movement cannot be forgotten. We are supporting these farmers by keeping our differences aside.’

Aaditya himself insisted in his Twitter post: “No I didn’t see the red flags, I saw their red blood which is the same as ours. Whichever the flag they carry, whoever their political hero, govt has to hear them…They are farmers who need to be heard. It’s unfortunate to be insensitive to those who feed us and put ideological cages on them.”

Now, Sena’s action could be in line with its plan to hit ally BJP wherever possible. It can also be called opportunism since the party is sharing power with the BJP and at the same time passing on all the criticism to the latter. Still the sight of Sena leaders greeting farmers carrying red flags and distributing them food and even nursing their wounds surely created a flutter in state’s politics.

Whatever is the reason it is good that parties with two rival ideologies are speaking in one voice when it comes to the issues of farmers.

Fadnavis versus Rane, round two goes to CM

First, he succeeded in preventing former chief minister Narayan Rane’s entry to the BJP. Now, he has managed to get the party offer Rane a Rajya Sabha seat. The latest development is seen as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ second strike against the Konkan strongman who is keen to join the state cabinet.

Right from day one when Rane made his intent to join the BJP clear, Fadnavis aides were pointing out that the CM did not want the former to be in the party or in his cabinet.

Rane was told that ally Shiv Sena was strongly opposed to him joining the party or the cabinet. Rane floated his separate outfit, Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh.

Now he has accepted the BJP offer of a Rajya Sabha seat. Will Fadnavis manage to keep Rane away from his cabinet? That remained to be answered...

As of now, round two has gone to the Fadnavis…

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 01:40 IST