By: Shubham Ghosh
The row in the politics of the western Indian state of Maharashtra over the country’s election commission granting the name and electoral symbol of the Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist political party, escalated further on Sunday (19) as former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray slammed the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Amit Shah, India’s home minister and the saffron party’s chief strategist.
Borrowing a popular line from a Bollywood film ‘Mr India’ uttered by iconic villain ‘Mogambo’, Thackeray said “Mogambo khush hua” (Mr Mogambo is happy), taking an indirect dig at the saffron party which was once an ally of the undivided Sena but has emerged as its main challenger in Maharashtra.
The 62-year-old Thackeray, son of the late Bal Thackeray who founded the Sena in 1966, also targeted prime minister Narendra Modi saying when the Shiv Sainiks (members and supporters of the Shiv Sena) saved the city of Mumbai during the 1993 serial blasts (Bombay then), where were those who are talking about Hindutva now.
“Those talking of Hindutva now, where were they? Address not known. Now they brag about 56-inch chest. Where was that 56-inch chest then? He was sweating,” Thackeray said.
While once people wore “Modi masks at rallies, now it is PM Modi, who is after the mask of Balasaheb Thackeray,” the leader said, pointing to the months-long battle with the BJP and chief minister Eknath Shinde for the legacy of his father.
The battle was settled on Friday (17) in Shinde by the poll commission — a decision that Thackeray has planned to challenge in the Supreme Court.
“Yesterday (February 18), someone (Amit Shah) came to Pune. He asked how things are going in Maharashtra. Then someone said it was a very good day, because the name and symbol of Shiv Sena was given to the slaves who came with us. So he (Mr Shah) said very well, ‘Mogambo khush hua’,” Thackeray said at a public meeting in Mumbai’s Andheri.
“These are the Mogambos of today. Like the original Mogambo, they want people to fight among each other, so they can enjoy power,” he added, citing one of the iconic villains of Bollywood.
The 62-year-old former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, however, dubbed the poll body’s move a “good thing” since it has “enraged the people”.
“They turned me out of my own house and the verdict went in the favour of thieves,” he said, warning that if they are allowed to get away with it, it could be repeated with any other political party.
Thackeray also had a stinging response to Amit Shah’s allegation that he had surrendered “at the feet of (Nationalist Party Congress chief) Sharad Pawar” to become the chief minister of Maharashtra.
“In 2019, Uddhav Thackeray campaigned with us but when poll results came, he forgot about all the ideologies and fell on Sharad Pawar’s feet and requested to make him CM. BJP doesn’t have greed for power and we will never forget our ideologies,” Shah, who is currently in Maharashtra ahead of the Mumbai civic elections, has said.
“Mogambo said I was licking the feet of the Congress and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) for the CM post. Now after what they have done, who knows who is licking what… How about when you were sitting with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (the former chief of Jammu and Kashmir’s People’s Democratic Party),” Thackeray said, citing the surprise alliance between the two parties with opposing ideologies to govern the former state of Jammu and Kashmir 2015.
“You want my father’s face but not his son. The son that was with you. I challenge them to come in front of me with the stolen bow and arrow. I have the mashaal (torch) and we will see what happens… They may have stolen the bow and arrow, but Ram is with me,” Thackeray said.
The Sena got split after a revolt led by Shinde toppled the coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Thackeray and the two camps fought over the legacy of the senior Thackeray who passed away in 2012.
The Supreme Court of India will hear the Sena dispute on Tuesday (21).