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Sarkar Raj: How Cong helped Balasaheb take over Maharasthra

Dailybhaskar.com   |  Nov 16, 2012, 14:37PM IST
Mumbai: It's not hard to see why ailing Bal Thackeray was so important to Maharashtra politics. 
 
Thackeray -- formed the Shiv Sena in 1966 to espouse the cause of the 'Marathi manoos,' who he claimed was being marginalised by both Gujaratis and south Indians.
 
The message soon started to hit home and Thackeray began to have a following among the Maharashtrians. Through his cartoons and writings, Thackeray created an enormous groundswell of support as he claimed that the two lobbies were ensuring that jobs in the state would go only to "outsiders" and not locals.
 
Why Thackeray disliked south Indians?
 
It is rumoured that when he was working as a cartoonist with the Free Press Journal, he was troubled by his south Indian bosses. That could explain Thackeray's acerbic attacks on south Indians. "Uthao lungi aur bajao pungi", went his war cry. 
 
Congress helped Thackeray rise
 
After the Shiv Sena supremo quit the Free Press Journal, he started his own weekly magazine along with his younger brother, Shrikant Thackeray (father of Raj Thackeray) in 1960.
 
The satirical magazine's take on politicians and the Congress played a part in the Sena's rise. The Congress wanted the Sena to rise in order to tackle Communist parties and their unions that held a huge hold over Mumbai and its labour class.
 
In the struggle against the Emergency imposed by the Congress regime from 1975 to 1977, the CPI(M) in Maharashtra played an active role. Several leaders of the party were arrested and detained for 19 months. Nevertheless, the party continued its campaign for the restoration of democracy.
 
In the general elections of 1977, the authoritarian Congress was routed. In that election, three party leaders – Ahilya Rangnekar from Mumbai, Lahanu Kom from Thane district and Gangadhar Appa Burande from Beed district – were elected to the Lok Sabha as part of a united front. In the 1978 state assembly elections that followed, 9 MLAs of the CPI(M) were elected on an anti-authoritarian platform. This was the highest electoral representation of the CPI(M) in Maharashtra to date.
 
Ever since the Shiv Sena was formed with the full backing of the big bourgeoisie and with the blessings of the Congress government, the Communist movement in Maharashtra has been engaged in ceaseless hostility with that semi-fascist force. The real purpose of promoting the Shiv Sena was to break the hold of the Communists over the working class of Mumbai. This hold had once again been proved during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.

The Shiv Sena, which had been formed on a platform of regional chauvinism – a manifestation of identity politics – began by attacking South Indians. It also attacked the Communists and their offices in Mumbai. The Communists, of course, retaliated. But the Sena had the full support of the Congress state government and its police. It was due to this support that Shiv Sena goons reportedly murdered CPI MLA Comrade Krishna Desai in 1970, pragoti.in reported.
 
So, when Sena slowly began capturing the unions through violence and other intimidatory tactics, the Congress looked the other way.
 
The rise of Shiv Sena
 
Once the Sena captured the unions, its support base grew phenomenally. This was because the unions were used to push through jobs for locals. Be it was a public sector bank or PSU, the Sena union would ensure that most workers who got in were Maharashtrians. This made the Sena extremely popular.
 
In the 80s, when mill workers were rendered jobless as mills were shut in the city, the Sena once again played its union card and tried to ensure that the workers were absorbed in local restaurants, hotels and other establishments.
 
Thackeray's hallmark
 
While his initial fan following was because of his cartoons and writings, his speeches later became the hallmark of his career.
 
He had the ability to rouse passions among followers and also generate laughter by taking on opponents. He mimicked all, from Sonia Gandhi to Manmohan Singh.
 
Bollywood connection
 
Thackeray's larger than life image is also due to his association with film stars and celebrities. For instance, he has a very close association with Amitabh Bachchan.
 
Amitabh has been close to the Sena ever since he was ferried to the hospital in a Sena ambulance when he was injured the shooting of Coolie.
 
The actor has enjoyed many a dinner with the Thackeray household. In spite of controversies sparked by Jaya Bachchan's recent comments, the relationship between the two has survived.
 
Another filmstar with whom Thackeray shared a close friendship was Dilip Kumar.
 
Thackeray would often talk about how him and the actor would share a beer together in Matoshree.
 
The friendship soured in the 90s, when Dilip Kumar accepted the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian award. Thackeray didn't want Dilip to accept the award. Thackeray would later say that "the channa and the beer are still there, but Dilip Kumar's has gone on a different path".
 
(With inputs from India Today)
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