Balasaheb Thackeray, a cartoonist, a politician, a public figure who is not on news everyday but yet is known to all. When he is on news, we know there is something major, something to watch out. But since he is on news rarely, only a few know much about him. Also, considering the fact that in the past 10 years or so, he’s hardly done much, this left a big amount of crowd, especially the urban literate to not respect him because they know him as a man who instigated violence and fear(thanks to paid media, may be), and some Valentine’s Day protests. This post is mainly to highlight some of his acts, with explanations if possible.
Call it paid media or the fact that he didn’t do much in the past 10 years, I think this is a big failure of Shiv Sena to educate every class about his achievements. Many supporters themselves may not know all and only know some instances. When it comes to vandalising property, creating fear, his supporters blindly followed his commands without really understanding why. I take this as a failure too, not that his commands were wrong, but highlighting the cause, giving reasonable reason is necessary too. It will help in moving forward the legacy too, educating the crowd for what he really stands for. This is the main reason why at times there’s violence even when there is no order from the Shiv Sena leaders. They are unable to control their own followers. Nevertheless, he is not perfect, no one is.
Coming down to achievements which I doubt anyone will disagree on. He started off as a cartoonist and must say a good one. Even in the later stages his cartoons did speak a lot. If he has lacs of followers who just go by his word, it definitely means a lot, says a lot about his leadership skills. Inspite of a few goof-ups here and there, he has managed this large number of followers in a way none of us can even imagine. His oratory skills are evident from the fact that within a couple of years he could manage to gather lacs of people to just listen to him. And this was done with only speeches and writing down some amazing articles in his magazine in the very early stage of his career. He has helped his community in a way like no other. You may be from a different community, feel jealous that you don’t have anyone of that stature to fight for your community, but you can’t deny what he did for his community, gave them job security, food, shelter, and Life security too. He was fearless and pursued what he believed in, no matter what. No matter how many enemies he created in that course, it didn’t stop him. Here, we read inspirational quotes each day from the greats to do what you believe in, to not fear. He was a man who lived it and proved to the world that those are not just quotes, they can be put to reality.
Coming down to some issues which all do not agree on, I will raise my opinion here with explanations.
He is often known as an enemy to the so called “outsiders” in Mumbai. My family is Sindhi-Gujju, an outsider too, and we have never faced any issue ever from them, infact we have been saved and helped at times. Reason being my family is contributing to this nation, to the city by working, having a decent job, a decent business. He has given security to Sikhs during the 84 riots, that were almost spread into Mumbai too, but didn’t because of him. He gave security to Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced out of their own states. In Mumbai, there are many immigrants from other states with absolutely no idea of what they want, they just hop in here, and start the search for job, shelter, food. This leads to them using resources that are already low for the people here, increasing population which indirectly hits the city in various ways. Increase in slum dwellers, affecting the hygiene of the city, also a reason to lot many infrastructure development hurdles. Since am not from the 1970’s, I don’t know why exactly was he against South Indians, Gujjus back then. But today against UP immigrants makes sense, because majority of them are from UP, the very lower class, without a job, just roaming around with the main motive of eve teasing, spitting at public places. The one’s running auto, taxis resort to meter tampering, being rude to passengers. Compare this to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi may be, there are immigrants in these cities too, but those are mainly service class people who first secure a job and then move in. They know how to behave too. They don’t just come in, make their own tent in some corner of the road and claim to get resources and land for free some years later. Yes, violence is not the way to treat this issue, but the issue raised isn’t wrong.
BJP ruled Maharashtra from 95-99. And it’s not a secret that Balasaheb was the ‘remote control’ minister. That was the time when Maharashtra witnessed a lot of development, but that was also the time when the development didn’t reach his own true followers, the poor Marathi Manoos. May be, he went wrong in distributing the development equally. Since then Mumbai has been losing it’s charm slow and steadily, in subtle ways, for which you can view my blog post on Mumbai written a few months back, Mumbai – A City Of Dreams, Yet?
Balasaheb may have been linked to violence a lot many times, most prominent being the one is 93. The question is why. No one likes violence, especially not a person who is working for the welfare of the state, of the people. Not going much into details, that was the time when various events took place, which sparked one another. Someone needed to take charge and ‘retaliate’, retaliate to protect and stand for Hindus, that someone was Balasaheb Thackeray. Many of this generation parents would not have been alive today or rather worse would have been raped if it were not for him to protect at that crucial moment. I somehow remember this quote now from the man who is known as the epitome of non-violence.
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Balasaheb himself said that he is not against Muslims, he is against those Muslims who are against India. Well, aren’t we all against them? Atleast, I am. I don’t want people like Kasab to be called Indian Citizens and spread terror in the country, in the name of being a minority. Infact, the Muslims who are not against India will not like themselves to be called a minority because they know how much they are loved by all.
Me, being born and brought up in Mumbai, having my parents live the 1984, 1993 riots in Mumbai, I admire the man for the way he’s shown courage, for what he has managed to accomplish, for the strength, for his accomplishments as a politician, as a public figure, for the hold that he has developed over the city, like no other can. Yes, I may not agree to all of Balasaheb’s acts, techniques, but then me and him are not the same. I respect him for the amount of work he has done, I doubt most of us can even achieve 10% of what he has done in his Life.