The 1996 John Travolta and Christian Slater-starrer film Broken Arrow has a mystic connection with Maharashtra politics. The on-screen feud between Travolta and Slater’s character might have brought in huge commercial success to the makers, but indirectly it proved to be a bad omen for one the strongest political family in Maharashtra, the Thackeray’s and their political outfit the Shiv Sena. Ironically, the party’s symbol happens to be Bow and Arrow.
What is the connection between Shiv Sena and the film Broken Arrow? Dhaval, a seasoned journalist with immense expertise of political reportage, through this work has emerged as a ‘political story teller’ has the answer.
The Cousins Thackeray, gives insights into the several shades of Uddhav and Raj’s personality, right from their childhood to college days to entering mainstream politics and the split.
With the passage of time, relations might get distanced or bitter, but one thing that remains forever, are the memories. Being a reporter has certainly helped the author gather so much information about Raj and Uddhav from those who have seen both the cousins grow up from close quarters.
“Uddhav was calm. Raj was naughty and would keep running around,” recalls Chhagan Bhujbal, who was then a senior Shiv Sena leader. He has also narrated an incident in the book, where he mentions installing a grill over his well at Nashik because as a child Raj would peep into it during visits to the farm.
On the other hand, Kirti Pathak, Uddhav and Raj’s paternal cousin recalls that Uddhav was extremely quite since childhood; he never shouted at anyone or lost his temper.
So much so, that he would not like sound of crackers being burst. “He has tremendous control over his emotions, which might have helped him as wildlife photographer,” opines Pathak.
Interestingly the recent ‘political egoism’ and the political drama that unfolded thereafter may seem totally new to few. But as we go through the backgrounder leading towards separation of cousins, the author giving reference to then Maharashtra Governor P C Alexander’s autobiography ‘Through the Corridors of Power:
An Insiders Story’ reminds us of the year 1999 when Sena-BJP alliance had run into similar kind, with rumours of secret understanding between BJP and NCP to form the government.
It was also widely spoken that Centre was not averse to imposing President’s Rule if a suitable government could not be formed by the stipulated date.
Though the book is mainly about Uddhav and Raj, the author has taken liberty in expanding certain instances by getting into minute details, which could be seen more as a professional habit.
Nevertheless, even those few extra pages could well be treated as resource material for anyone who wishes to understand the undercurrents of Maharashtra politics.
Today, on the 7th Death Anniversary of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, few questions come to my mind. If Raj had not to leave Shiv Sena, would his oratory and Udhhav’s organisational skills have taken party to greater heights?
Was the patch-up between the two so difficult that the cousins had reached point of no return? Was there a possibility whereby Uddhav could have been given the charge of urban Maharashtra while Raj could have held the rural fort? Answers to all these and many such questions could be traced in this book, at times by even reading between the lines.
Lastly, I would like to draw attention of all readers towards one line or observation made by former Shiv Sena MP in this book where he states that Uddhav is a good listener, Raj reportedly has a shorter attention span.
Wish at some point then Uddhav had to listen and Raj had to forget, who knows, things would have been different not just for Shiv Sena or Mumbai but for the entire polity of Maharashtra.