Perhaps, Raj Thackeray’s recent address to a rally in Aurangabad was his most restrained speech, though it did use very crude and uncivilised language. A few days ago, the Aurangabad police ruthlessly beat up his party’s legislator Harshawardhan Jadhav who had tried to run over a police van. The media hyped the issue expecting that Raj Thackeray would flare it up further. However, it didn’t happen. Even though his political opponent Uddhav Thakeary, leader of the Shivsena unexpectedly condemned the assault, Raj Thackeary kept calm. He simply called a rally in Aurangabad. After being asked by the media about his reaction to the assault, he told the media to wait until the rally. There was also news that the police warned him to avoid saying something that would incite his followers.
However, the much-hyped rally turned out to be a damp squib for those who had expected a sensational speech. He avoided being provocative, yet he was aggressive. Like an opportunist as he is always, he cleverly used the emotional support that Harshwardhan Jadhav had received from everyone. Calling the assault a conspiracy, he targeted NCP leaders R.R.Patil and Ajit Pawar. Referring directly to the removal of the statue of Dadoji Kondev, he lashed out at NCP for doing caste politics in Maharashtra.
‘Maharashtra is for the Marathi people, not for just the Maratha caste’, this is how he tried to shape his political agenda against the caste based politics. As he has been very successful in creating an image of a saviour of Marathi people, the repackaging of his political ideology in terms of “Marathi, not the Maratha” looks cleverly opportunistic.
He has always tried to make himself appear as a state-level leader. No one looks at him as an Indian leader. Though he has said that he has no intention to separate Maharashtra from India, Maharashtra is rapidly being perceived as a state of intolerant and xenophobic people. Thanks to the Thackeray family’s politics based on language. So it looks strange when Raj Thackeray lashes out at caste based politics. Caste politics polarises society, so does language based politics. India is so diverse that it is always vulnerable to sectarian politics. If Raj Thackeray fears that caste based politics divides Maharashtra, then it should also be noted that his language politics divides India. His criticism of caste politics, therefore, gives a screwed impression that the unity of Maharashtra needs to be achieved at the cost of “India”.
Now it is accepted that he wants to be the messiah of Maharashtra, I want Raj Thackeray to give an idea that should bind the Marathi people together. Can he look at the Marathi society as a whole? No matter however he is criticized for his seatrain politics, he certainly has an edge over other politicians as he has created an image of a leader who can represent the entire Marathi society. Now in order to sustain this image and to gain more credibility, he has to give Marathi people an idea that keeps them together. We hope that he will not follow the path of Hinduism as his uncle did switching from “Marathi” ideology to Hinduism. If he does the same, he will lose credibility as a leader of the entire Marathi society.
One of the eminent political analysts, Pratab Asabe says in an article that Raj Thackeary has created a bigger space for himself in the Maharashtra politics by making the NCP as his main opponent in addition to the Shivsena. But Partat Aasabe doesn’t criticise the manner in which Raj Thackeary has done it. Our journalists are shying away from criticising the crude and uncivilised language that Raj Thakceary uses to attack his opponents.
Pratab Asabe says that if a political party wants to rule the state, then it needs to establish itself a chief opponent of the ruling party. This is insightful. Raj Thackeray has realised that the NCP which is the major party in the coalition government in Maharashtra has to be his chief opponent, not simply the Shivsena. Being an astute politician, Raj Thackeary has understood that the image of the NCP is becoming a party for the Maratha people. That is why he has taken the clear stand to give himself a space in politics by directly attacking its caste based politics. Whether NCP does caste based politics is a different matter, however he has become successful in making that impression in his Aurangabad rally.
However, we need to notice that Raj Thakeray’s politics is established on the same kind of sectarian politics, if not directly caste based politics. His ideology of being the messiah of the Marathi people is, at the moment, his advantage. Thanks to the current political chaos. In Maharashtra, no politician or political party, including the Congress, can directly attack his political ideology, because two major parties, the NCP and the Shivena, are simply local parties, though they try to appear as national parties. Despite being a nataional party, the congress in Maharashtra is not strong enough to take on Raj Thackeary’s sectarian tactics.
However, it does not mean that Raj Thackeary’s political re-packaging in terms of “Marathi, not the Maratha” will work. The Marathi language is not enough to bind Marathi people together. Caste based identities in India are much stronger than the language based identities. Telengana should be a good example of this.
Raj Thackeary needs to give Marathi people a better idea than “Marathi, not the Maratha”. Our politicians do not have imagination power. They do not have ideas. They need to speak well. They need to improve on language skills. They should develop good oratory skills. Raj Thackeary’s recent speech was not civilised.
In order to emerge and to creat a poltical space, our politicians simply become demagogues appealing to the emotions and the prejudices of people. They simple criticise one another. They use a crude language. They present themselves as very bitter and nasty enemies of one another.
Dear Raj, we expect a lot from you. What you need is a better imagination, get an idea please!