Editorial: The Irrelevance Of Being Raj Thackeray

Editorial: The Irrelevance Of Being Raj Thackeray

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, April 12, 2024, 10:02 PM IST
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Raj Thackeray | ANI

A quarter of a century ago, Raj Thackeray was widely seen in the then Shiv Sena as the doppelganger of his uncle and party chief Bal Thackeray, and the perfect fit to take over the reins of the then muscle-flexing nativist party. Not only did the young Thackeray have a good hand at caricatures like his uncle did, he was also bold and fiery in his statements, he showed that he had the steel in his spine to take the party forward and become the voice of Maharashtrians on the national stage. In 2024, Raj Thackeray, chief of his own disparate party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) which he launched after splitting with the Shiv Sena, cuts a rather sorry political figure, his flip-flops on Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning him into a caricature and his ideological swing from anti-Modi in 2019 to pro-Modi five years later making him meme-worthy even among his flummoxed party supporters.

From his widely-appreciated entry into electoral politics in 2009, in which the MNS won 4.6% of the vote share in the state in Lok Sabha election and 13 seats in the Assembly later that year, Thackeray refrained from fielding candidates in 2019 and this year. What went so wrong? His journey underscores the cardinal truth about a political dynasty — while it gives people a head start, it does not ensure their political longevity. Others born into political families made it their purpose and career with some smarts and hard work. Thackeray seemed to have believed in his own myths — that the family name would carry him through, that his immediate rival Uddhav Thackeray who eventually led the Sena would preside over its disintegration, that his state-first politics was enough of an ideology. People enjoy his rallies and speeches, but give no dime to his politics. Maharashtra could have done with a strong and seasoned sub-nationalist voice, but Raj Thackeray does not look like he will fill this vacuum.

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