Sunday, November 18, 2012

Was Thackeray an Anachronism?



Bal Thackeray was the Hitler of Maharashtra.  He not only admired the ‘Great Dictator’ but also tried to emulate him by fighting the non-Marathis with all resources available to him.  The number of people in various parts of India who must have celebrated the death of Bal Thackeray at least in the privacy of their hearts may not be minuscule. 

Just as Hitler wanted a Germany of pure Aryans, Thackeray wanted an India of pure Hindus.  His blinkered vision rankled with inveterate hatred for Muslims and Christians, a hatred which went to the extent of getting even cricket matches and pitches dashed to wrack and ruin if the Pakistani team was in the vicinity.  His men, mostly antisocial elements, went around assaulting people who celebrated the Valentine’s Day.  He hated people for loving people.  He did not hesitate to wield his cudgel against Sachin Tendulkar merely for stating that he was a Marathi but also an Indian
This very same Thackeray had, however, no compunction about forming a political alliance with the Muslim League during the Bombay Corporation elections in the 1970s.  Many of his friends till the end of his life were Muslims who had political or financial clout.  One of the physicians whom he trusted most was a Christian, Dr Samuel Mathew.  He was overjoyed to have Michael Jackson perform for his Shiv Sena.  When Michael Jackson condescended to use his toilet, Thackeray’s bowels moved with ebullience.

Was he a bundle of contradictions?

I think he was a blatant anachronism: a Hitler born a century late.

Thackeray lived in a time when nations opened up their borders not only for trade but also for migration.  But he chose to live in a small world guarded ferociously by his puny-minded Cossacks.  When the whole world opened up gates, Thackeray chose to close gates.  He asserted that the land should belong to the sons of the soil.  Who had built up that land as an economic fortress, however?  How many Marathis were responsible for the emergence of Bombay as the economic capital of India?  Of course, such questions do not matter of dictators.

Like every dictator, Thackeray loved to impose his views on others.  He justified his perverse inclination by projecting Shivaji as his patron saint and inspiration.  Hitler was the second most important idol in his pantheon.    He admired Indira Gandhi when she imposed her dictatorship on the country in a foolhardy venture called the Emergency.  This admiration also won him the support of many Congressmen in his state.
It may be a mere stint of irony that Thackeray lost his voting rights from 1995-2001.  After all, he didn’t believe in democracy.  Yet that punishment, for rousing communal passion during electioneering, must have hurt him much since he thought his vote was more valuable than a million others’.
 
Speak no ill of the dead, says the adage.  Let me conclude by saying that Bal Thackeray was a brave man.  Like Hitler.  Like Narendra Modi.  Even like Joseph Stalin whom Thackeray didn’t like because he was Leftist and not Rightist. 

Let me conclude this obituary with Modi baai’s words in honour of the dead: “Balasaheb Thackeray was an epitome of courage and valour.  He was full of life.  He fought like a warrior.  I’ve lost someone who always guided me.”

Alas, leaders like Modi, Thackeray, Hitler, Stalin... don’t need any guiding light.  Aren’t they their own lights?  Like William Blake’s Tiger that burns bright in the forests of the night...?!

24 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why did you remove your comment, Jahid?

      Delete
    2. Sorry sir, by mistake it got deleted :) You have written it very well. He was one of the most controversial politician but had a very strong and bold personality.

      Delete
    3. Thank you. I wish such strong and bold personalities didn't become a threat to people!

      Delete
  2. Another contradiction in a nation of contradictions!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This nation is full of characters like him - who got there way even though almost everyone, except a small group of adherents, thought was wrong.

    Ours is a democracy with a lot of contradictions and the common man gets nothing beyond a vote.

    I was amused by the comments by the leaders who till the moment of death were his adversaries..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, people are forced by their positions to speak against their own convictions. Today's Hindu carries an article Praveen Swami, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/an-authentic-indian-fascism/article4112448.ece, quoting some of those comments of eminent people.

      Delete
  4. HI,TM, well said,

    He is also going to remain a question mark, on what kind of democracy is India. Not only that he did not believe in democracy, he could very easily stay above democracy; he reminds me of an Indian imperial, Hitler comes only next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What his Sainiks are doing now as a reaction to some harmless comments in Facebook reveals the kind of brute force nurtured by the leader.

      Delete
  5. This is the land of Gandhi, the land of Balasaheb, the land of Narendra Modi.. Aren't we a tolerant nation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too tolerant, perhaps. Sometimes I wonder whether the kind of tolerance we display is a sign of our laziness or even cowardice.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. But what's his legacy? Is it worth following that?

      Delete
  7. like him, don't like him... can't ignore him....

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are so right! And the irony is that even after he's gone, controversies related to him continues. The news of 2 girls being arrested because they posted their views says a lot. Unfortunately, the girls ended up deleting their fb profiles. Such is the state of affairs, such are the sad affairs in the state :( The reason why, as much as I wanted to, I did not publish your strong and rightful comment on my post. Do I disagree with what you said? NO. Am I afraid to publish the comment? YES. I am definitely afraid to spend a night in the jail and face vandalism with my medical condition. I wish I had the strength and energy to say what I thought was right regardless of the consequences, but alas fibromyalgia has an upper hand. I sincerely apologize for not being able to publish your comment. And I am feeling so irritated about not being able to enjoy the fundamental rights we are supposed to enjoy in our 'democratic' country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anuradha, thanks for being so candid. I understand your situation perfectly and I too feel extremely pained to see what has happened with those two girls merely because of an innocuous comment on FB. It's indeed a pathetic state of affairs.

      Delete
  9. Thank you too! loved reading your posts, looking forward to more!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent read... but I really wish India had more political leaders with his guts, some of them do mean well for the public but are often meek and are subdued by higher ranking corrupt people. (PS - I sincerely hope you don't get sent to jail for this post :P)

    ReplyDelete

Historical Distortions

18 th century French naturalist the Comte de Buffon wrote that the people of America had small and feeble sex organs so much so the...