What happened on 9th September in Mumbai, was unprecedented and shameful. The way bulldozers bludgeoned Kangana Ranaut’s office in Pali Hill, was one of the most revolting pictures I have come across in many many years. It was an ugly display of brutal state power being used against a common woman. A woman, though she is hugely popular as a cine star, has no real means to resist this kind of disproportionate misuse of state machinery. It has made the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government generally and particularly Shiv Sena look foolish. It has also rankled the nerves of coalition partners, NCP and Congress badly. And the feeling that this alliance is increasingly untenable has come back sharply. But does that mean this Government will fall immediately? The short answer is, No!
To explain further, this Government is so unstable, that nothing can weaken it further. It, right from day one has been on borrowed time. So this desperate act has only exposed this fact, in a more pronounced manner. But this blatant show of power will not make the alliance partners walk away from Sena yet. Now the question arises, why did Uddhav go after Kangana?
There is a duel explanation to it. First very short term & personal and second, mid term & political.
Kangana began it all
Obviously this series of embarrassment started with Sushant Singh Rajput’s unfortunate death, on 14th June. The speed with which, Maharashtra Government was eager to declare it a suicide, raised the first doubt. When you add Disha Salian’s death, who was Sushant’s manager, which happened only a week before Sushant’s death, to it, it looks like too much of a coincidence. Immediately on 15th June, Kangana released a video, in which she hit out at Bollywood clique which (as per her) boycotts outsiders. She adds that Sushant’s work was never acknowledged and which in a way contributed to this death. She also charges them with instigating her to take her own life.
Sushant’s death, which just like Jiah Khan or Disha Salian’s death would have gone out of public minds, had Kangana not taken up the issue. But now this had grabbed eyeballs, leading to TV channels and Social Media (SM) networks picking up the story. And within no time it was converted into a national issue. Which led to a petition to the court to hand over the case to CBI, which obviously led to Rhea’s arrest. With Rhea all set to spill the beans, indications are there that this is going to engulf Thackeray family members in some way.
It’s quite evident that all this has not only embarrassed Thackerays, but it has also dented their political capital. So there is a strong, immediate motivation to harass Kangana. For Shiv Sena’s core base, the supreme leader can’t be seen to be outmanoeuvred by a woman. That too a non-Marathi outsider. For these core supporters, Shiv Sena’s image as a local Militia is everything. Vigilantism is Shiv Sena’s hallmark. Bulldozing Kangana’s office was ‘Justice Delivered’ for insulting the heir to the Balasaheb’s throne. The 10th September, headlines in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, ‘Saamna’, explains this ‘Supreme Leader’ mindset perfectly. It says “Ukhad Diya”! Which, is a reply to Kangana’s relentless provocations and challenges. Please appreciate, on a national level, Shiv Sena is a political party. But say, in Mumbai, it’s an ‘Extra Constitutional’ authority which can settle matters and deliver justice without Government intervention. That Government may even be it’s own!
Maratha Reservation – The Thorn in MVA’s side
Now the second and larger part behind this bizarre action is aimed at controlling the news cycle. You see, this MVA Government is facing big embarrassment on the Maratha Reservation issue. The Supreme Court has ruled that this year their Maratha quota will not be applicable to Jobs and Education. It has referred the matter to Chief Justice to constitute a larger bench. However, admissions already made in Post-Graduate courses under Maratha Quota will stay. And there lies the rub of the whole issue. The students who are undergoing their courses could take admissions because the BJP Government, led by Devendra Fadnavis, passed a law granting Marathas Reservation in November 2018 in jobs and education.
And this is not the only embarrassment it’s facing. Maharashtra continues to top the ghastly Corona infections and deaths chart. The state continues to add more than 25% of national infections every day. The much larger state Uttar Pradesh or state as big as Maharasthra, like West Bengal are doing much better. Add to this, several incidents, such as Anant Kursmuse beaten police at the behest of Jitendra Awhad. Or fraudsters Wadhwans being allowed to travel illegally to Mahabaleshwar. Or Bandra migrant workers creating a riot like situation. And of course Palghar Sadhus Lynching! So you see, Uddhav Thackeray’s administration has been a complete failure.
Even in his own party, he is losing control steadily. First, there is a section in ranks and also old leaders that, which feels that aligning with Congress has made it difficult for them to explain party stand on many issues. It’s too much of strain. Second, there is a resentment that Uddhav has allowed a virtual free run to NCP on various administrative issues at district and taluka level. Which is showing up through incidents such as Corporators defecting to NCP or MP, Sanjay Jadhav resigning, again because of NCP’s bullying.
Not to be forgotten the belligerent Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis breathing down Uddhav’s neck. And consuming footage, because of positive news. Since the Corona outbreak, he has been working very hard. In the last 6 months, he has travelled more than the CM and his Deputy put together. And, he looks fully capable of swinging 25 odd MLA any day from ruling benches and pulling down this Government. In fact, if today BJP is not making any effort to engineer any defections, it’s because of the Corona crisis.
Uddhav – A complete failure
All in all, this MVA alliance in general, but Shiv Sena or rather Uddhav Thackeray in particular, has been an abject failure running this Government. And it has been facing all-round criticism and from many quarters. Even Marathi press, which is incapable of criticising anything Sharad Pawar does, had to allot time to Shiv Sena blunders. After all, for them, TRP remains the top priority.
Hence, these immature and churlish tactics, to grab eyeballs and occupy public minds, hoping people may forget the bigger failures. But you see, in the days of Social Media and with opposition like BJP, this won’t work for long. And while this may make Shiv Sena’s small base happy, sooner than later, Uddhav will have to face the wrath of people of Maharashtra.
As I am about to finish this, news came in that a 63-year-old, Madan Sharma – Retired Navy officer, was dragged out of this house and beaten by six Sena goons. It’s quite clear that Uddhav Thackeray and his advisor, Sanjay Raut are going to torment Mumbai for asking too many questions. Dear Mumbaikars, brace yourself, Shiv Sena is about to run riot in Mumbai.