It’s a fact that we live in a country where you find just politicians and not leaders. Well there is an exception. Mumbai is claimed to be the city that neither sleeps nor stops, apparently not. I was out with friends when the news finally broke out that Balasaheb Thackeray passed away. The Impact was immediate, could see the flocks of people with saffron flags and cops all over. I sensed that there was a storm coming. But what followed was something I never expected.
In a country where people are paid to vote, it is unusual to see over three million people on a Sunday converging to Shivaji Park just to have one last look at the person who ruled their city for more than three decades. I was always intimidated by power and being born here in Mumbai I had a personal figure to relate power with. Back when I was 13 with almost no brain cells I had no clue that the chief guest at some event at Shanmukhananda Hall was the most powerful man I would ever see.
When Alive he could shut down Mumbai at will – Fear was the Key!
He has done so again but this time – Emotion is the Key!
Now I am 21 and with enough brain cells to know how much Balasaheb has done for the state I was born in. Being a Gujrathi my views on the great man don’t change one bit. The state and the Maharshtrains around always knew that there was this one person who cared for the state and rest was just secondary.
As a political figure he had scores of admirers and critics throughout his life. You may dispute his legacy and his brand of politics as well. But you can’t argue with the fact that he had this great sense of leadership which kept Shiv Sena glued together with its followers. I had the pleasure of knowing a few Shiv Saniks and for them every command by the Tiger was GOD’s command. They weren’t just called soldiers for no reason. You get a feeling that it’s an army and Balasaheb is the commander in chief. Many think its fear but you can’t force people to do what they do. Just like today you can’t force millions of people from all over the state to come to and pay respect to the departed. It’s not Fear, as many would lead us to believe, but an unprecedented outpouring of Emotion that’s bringing the Men and Women to Shivaji Park
Balasaheb attracted a lot of hate by making statements expressing admiration for Hitler, inciting violence against Muslims, expressing support for the LTTE and taking strong stances on the aspects of popular culture including fervent opposition to the celebration of Valentine’s Day. Not many non maharshtrains are a big fan of Balasaheb and understandably so.
The Sena supremo had a difficult time towards last few years thanks to his health and the sibling rivalry growing beneath the surface. People say Bollywood movies needed his approval before the censor board; well that’s a matter of opinion. Mr. Senior Bachchan and Mr. Dutt know what it was like having the tiger on their side more than anybody else in the film industry. He is often called anti-Muslim, but he was more like an anti-Pro-Pakistani.
He has the unique ability to pick the right issue at the right time be it the son of soil ideology or hardline hindutva philosophy. I never thought of Balasaheb as a politician he was more of a cartoonist turned activist turned leader for me. Balasaheb’s hallmark was spontaneity. He liked to make statements that shocked people and made headlines. He never thought about the political consequences of it which can be easily put under the banner of irresponsibility.
It’s indeed a pity that a Man who could fire Millions just by his Oratory Tiger Roar, out of choice preferred to stay within his bastion of Maharashtra rather than venture out in his own Nation and fire a Billion Indians.
After Balasaheb, the equations of politics in Maharashtra will change by all means. It will be difficult for Uddhav Thackeray to retain that unpredictable aspect of charisma and that mercurial nature, which confounded the media and made him controversial. Also, Uddhav does not have the communication skills and the straightforwardness of his father. The long years made Balasaheb Thackeray into a legend. It is not easy to hold on to this metaphysical reality. Raj on the other hand whose party MNS has already taken a major share of Sena’s Marathi Vote bank hasn’t yet impacted the city and nearby areas. However I find Raj’s approach is more like Balasaheb’s, he is more aggressive and is a good orator. With the tiger gone I won’t be surprised if this cub rises.
Having said all the above, you can love him or hate him; but you can by no means ignore him and all what he has done for Mumbai and state of Maharashtra.
Many people are happy that he’s gone but it’s a very SAD day for Maharashtra, the state lost a son and we lost our leader.
He’s the reason I feel proud when somebody mistaken me for a Maharshtrain.
Bal Thackray, the man who defined power, love for the city to me. The Man, who played the real life Vito Corleone, spoke and lived like a tiger in his beloved den which he named himself – Mumbai
भावपूर्वक श्रद्धांजली 😦