Nagpur: It’s the festive season, to be followed by the local elections. With it, Hindutva has become a hot property, being marketed in a style that may put the IIM-trained geniuses to shame. Hours after the BJP’s parent organisation, the RSS, underlined its Hindutva through the chief, Mohan Bhagwat, at the annual Dussehra rally in Nagpur, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said that his party’s was the real Hindutva, which has been threatened by the neo-Hindus (in the BJP). Thackeray regretted that he may sound like an RSS critic and urged Bhagwat to admonish the ‘fanatics’ for disregarding the teaching of the chief of the parent organisation that was also responsible for bringing the Sena and the BJP together, before they parted ways.
Why does the chief minister of a secular Maha Vikas Aghadi government stick firmly to the right-wing ideology, and also differentiate between his party’s and BJP’s Hindutva? Is he doing so at the cost of upsetting the ruling partners, especially the Congress, and safeguarding the Sena against the BJP’s criticism of abandoning Hindutva?
Little wonder, the Sena chief has set his sights on the party’s version of Hindutva for retaining its core base and earning a bonus of floating votes, when ‘saffronised’ cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and many other towns will elect their local governments in the next year’s mini assembly-like polls. In the recent by-polls, the Sena trailed behind all other parties in spite of being the largest party in the MVA.
The next year’s results will prepare a pitch for the Assembly polls, to be held in a regular course or necessitated by a mid-term miracle the BJP has been forecasting. The Hindutva agenda will reign supreme, with a race between the BJP and the Sena, which has about 50 seats less than its former ally, in the Assembly.
Slamming the former partner, Thackeray told Bhagwat that the BJP has been blatantly violating the real Hindutva, which according to him, is supposed to be confined to the homes and not taken out everywhere. Some may say Thackeray has said it in departure from the Sena’s public display of Hindutva, based on which the party formed its first-ever government in a post-Babri polarised Maharashtra.
The BJP’s advent back then prompted the Sena to take up Hindutva for political gains. Years later, the same agenda took the BJP far ahead of others, including one-time big brother Shiv Sena. Now in power, albeit in a tricky formation, the Sena is trying to create an impression that it is distancing itself from Hindutva it has been wearing on its sleeves. But it can’t actually do it when the BJP thrives on the saffron agenda, and the parties deemed secular are not averse to brandishing their Hindu credentials for seeking the majority votes.
Considering the RSS as a messenger, Thackeray showed how intensely he despised some BJP leaders for breaking the ‘holy’ alliance. The break up led to the formation of a tripartite MVA that has vowed to follow the secular, socialist and democratic principles of the Preamble of the Constitution. But while calling out the BJP and expecting the RSS to play a repairer, Thackeray has left doubts and hopes in the MVA camp. The Congress and NCP will still be thinking that the Sena hasn’t shut the doors completely on the BJP. Yet, they could hope for bonding stronger in the hard times the three parties are faced with.
Thackeray has pledged unity on this issue. The fear, agony and frustration that the enforcement and raids have caused in the MVA may even strengthen further their resolve to fight the BJP together. However, the longevity of the bond and its disintegration hinges on who among the three blinks first.
Thackeray’s revelation that he would have stepped aside from politics had the BJP agreed to instal a Shiv Sainik in the CM office, and that he didn’t want to be a CM, has caused much flutter. Former CM Devendra Fadnavis has dismissed the Sena chief’s claim saying that he has always been ambitious and entered into an unholy pact just to fulfil his personal wish. NCP boss Sharad Pawar has endorsed Thackeray’s statement, saying, “I wanted him to be a CM.” Thackeray’s speech, particularly about ‘quitting politics’, is being read between the lines.
Some say that Thackeray may shun the CM’s office whenever things fall in place for the Sena-BJP reunion. Arguing against it, some don’t see the possibility and expect the BJP to think twice before agreeing to Thackeray’s conditional approach. Whatever it turns out to be, ultimately the people will decide when they go polling. We’re not sure when though.