Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray have a few MLAs, including Aaditya Thackeray and Anil Parab. Who else? Sanjay Raut is of no help in the changed scenario. He is a Rajya Sabha MP. Ditto Priyanka Chaturvedi. And Raut left very little room for the Thackerays to manoeuvre. The man single-handedly burned every bridge still standing for the Thackerays.
Raut is a habitual offender, if not a serial one. Raut went beyond his little brief to knowingly make enemies of every one of the rebels Shiv Sena MLAs. He declared them “Zinda Laash”, he called them “traitors”, he referred to them as “useless trash”, and he promised to get their careers vandalised. And neither of the two Thackerays stepped in to rein this wayward mouth.
If anything, Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray encouraged him and Priyanka Chaturvedi to pile on the insults. Uddhav said in his second Facebook Live that it was a “mistake” making an “auto driver” a minister. That was Uddhav’s parting shot for Shinde, who, if he can lead a rebellion and keep more than three dozen rebels from going astray, must have more qualities in him than what an auto driver will possess.
Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray picked Shinde for special mention, and Shinde cannot be dismissed as of no account just because, at one time, he was moving around on three wheels. Thursday morning Eknath Shinde’s rebels declared they were the “real Shiv Sena”, and from all indications, Eknath Shinde is the new CM.
Uddhav Thackeray will not be there to watch Fadnavis and Shinde take over Maharashtra after he gave up all the fights in Sanjay Raut and Sharad Pawar. But Uddhav Thackeray today would be worrying more about his hold on the party his father bequeathed to him, and he squandered the ambitions of a party and politician who never was a friend of Balasaheb.
Maybe, Uddhav Thackeray was missing a father figure in his life after the departure of Balasaheb and found more than solace in an octogenarian with the reputation of decimating parties like people polish away a good meal on an empty stomach. Uddhav Thackeray, at the time of leaving, thanked Sharad Pawar and those listening heard the respect and gratitude in Uddhav’s soft rendition of “Farewell my….”
The jury is still out on whether Pawar led Uddhav up the garden path or held his hand through a challenging yet heightened phase of his life. The rebel camp has no love lost for Pawar and his party NCP. And Uddhav is not making it easy for son Aaditya to inherit the Shiv Sena when his turn comes!
The question is will he be able to save the Shiv Sena from going to the dogs? Contrary to expectations, the 50 to 60 lakh registered members of the Shiv Sena, hardcore kaamgars, did not hit the streets on Sanjay Raut’s dog whistle to wreak havoc on the rebels’ intention to grab not only the government but also a party. A few rebel offices got vandalised. And a few rebel MLAs’ relatives got terrorised, that’s all.
From all indications, most of the rough and tumble Shiv Sainiks, their smart street reputations intact, chose to watch the drama unfold from the margins. Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray realised this, but both father and son let Sanjay Raut make a last stand. The future of the Shiv Sena is now in the heads and hearts of the Shiv Sainiks, not in the hands of the Thackerays or the fists of the rebel Sena MLAs.
The Thackerays made a mistake giving up on Hindutva. What were they thinking? Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena was fattened on a strict diet of Hindutva. However, BJP and RSS are called the left-liberal. And the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva is more outdated than the BJP’s Hindutva, which paled before the Sena’s Hindutva. If one anything felled the three-legged Uddhav Thackeray government, it was Hindutva on wheels, leaving Uddhav Thackeray behind.
Uddhav Thackeray lost his chief ministership to Hindutva. He helped Hindutva rise in the Shiv Sena ranks and the BJP. A favour was done to Sonia Gandhi, or was it to Sharad Pawar and his NCP? If anything, Uddhav’s flip-flop on Hindutva has indefinitely changed the political lay of the land for the Congress and the NCP, whatever happens to the Shiv Sena notwithstanding.
Uddhav Thackeray made a last-minute attempt to salvage the remaining vestiges of the Sena’s Hindutva by renaming Aurangabad to Shambajinagar, but it was too much too late! This was a Maratha goal for a long time, but the Thackerays cut it too fine. As Minister for Environment & Tourism, Aaditya Thackeray should have read the headwinds, but like father like son! In front of the Thackerays, Eknath Shinde shines bright as a Hindutva beacon.
Suppose Uddhav Thackeray retains hold of the party and the party’s symbol. What will he go and ask for votes when everybody in Maharashtra has seen him in the company of Hindutva-hating Sharad Pawar? Shorn of Hindutva, the jewel Balasaheb gave to Uddhav to hand it to Aaditya Thackeray; the Thackerays haven’t much chance to retain complete hold on the Shiv Sena.
The Thackerays’ sole ownership of the Shiv Sena stands threatened. The Shiv Sena will henceforth not be a privately owned company. There will be multiple shareholders, and unlike Mukesh Ambani, Uddhav Thackeray will not have the power to make Aaditya Thackeray “Chairman” of the Shiv Sena. Uddhav Thackeray has not yet fully paid for his craving to become Chief Minister. That punishment is reserved for the future.
And as the saying goes, sons pay for their fathers’ mistakes. Balasaheb Thackeray, for all his positives, was all for dynasty, as was apparent when he chose son over nephew. Still, Uddhav Thackeray fell to the wiles of a foster father of his choosing Balasaheb’s dynasty was in dire straits. Rahul Gandhi is a better-placed dynasty-wise than Aaditya Thackeray.
By Sushil Kutty