“The Shiv Sena does not have a theory, and it is impossible for an organization to survive sans a theory,” said the veteran communist leader S A Dange while addressing a Sena meeting in 1984 at the invitation of none other than the founder of the organisation Bal Thackeray. Shiv Sena “survived, flourished, because of a lack of theory,” wrote Suketu Mehta two decades later in his brilliant book on Thackeray’s city. The Sena “always hitched a ride aboard the theory of the day: anti-communism, fascism, socialism, anti-immigrant and, now, anti-Muslim, pro-Hindu,” wrote Mehta.
Raj Thackeray inherited his uncle’s bizarrely opportunistic genes. His latest antic is to get Karan Johar to donate Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund for having produced a movie with a Pakistani actor in it. Indian army was quick to distance itself from such political drama. Mercifully, the army is still led by sensible people especially after General V K Singh left it and took upon the BJP mantle.
In 1996, Michael Jackson performed in Mumbai which was Bombay until a few months back. Bal Thackeray rechristened the city after the Bharatiya goddess Mumbaidevi. But he had no qualms about letting Michael Jackson entertain the city with his American culture and art. Thackeray got Jackson to donate a million dollars to his party. Thackeray got Jackson to visit him at his residence. Forget that the first thing Jackson did after entering Thackeray’s residence was to pee. Forget that the toilet in which Jackson peed was preserved as a sacred place by Thackeray and was shown off to his VIP visitors later with unabashed pride.
That shamelessness is the real Thackeray legacy which Raj has inherited. He knows how to use everything including an innocuous movie for puerile political purposes.
The simple truth is that there are far better ways of solving the problem between India and Pakistan than what our mean-minded politicians make us believe. For example, in the last 12 years the trade between the two countries has grown from $345 million to $2.6 billion. And India exports five times of what it imports from Pakistan. Can’t our politicians think of improving such relationships which will mean much for the people of both countries? Perhaps, Raj Thackeray should go to his uncle’s house and sit on the Jackson commode and contemplate a while.