He had scores of admirers and critics. You may dispute his legacy and his brand of politics but he held sway over the Marathi manoos till his last breath. ABHAY MOKASHI analyses life for Sena without Bal Thackeray and the political legacy of the Sena supremo.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was not merely the captain of the ship, but he was also the anchor and he played both roles most efficiently. As a captain he led the Sena so well that it kept growing vertically and horizontally. As the anchor, he did not ever allow the ship to be adrift or to rock even in the worst of situations.
He was in a position to keep the leaders and the followers together, except for a few. The biggest jolt to the party, in terms of the number of people leaving the party, was the exit of Raj Thackeray. Yet, it was his role as an anchor and his magnetic power to keep people together that helped the party remain strong and avoid getting split, the way many others have done.
It was this inherent ability of the Sena chief that the party would miss the most. He must be one of the very few leaders in the country, who had an “I care-a-damn” attitude towards those who would even think of rebellion in the party. He was far above sycophancy and cajoling; neither did he indulge in it nor did he encourage it within the party. There is no other leader in the party who can do that. Ever since Bal Thackeray started taking a back seat, he left the decision making to his son and the working president of the party, Uddhav. During the distribution of tickets at the time of various elections, there was tremendous dissent in the party, which led to large-scale rebellion. This was a sign of Thackeray senior losing grip over the party, given his overall health. But it was also the beginning of pacification of the dissidents.
It may not be difficult for some to be a Thackeray, being born in the clan and having the same genes, but only one man could become Bal Thackeray and that was Thackeray Senior himself.
Thackeray made an emotional appeal to his followers in his recorded speech, played at the annual Dassera rally, to take care of Uddhav and Aditya, the way they took care of him. A hardcore Shiv Sainik would normally have not gone against the wishes or directives of the Sena Chief, but with his exit there would be a sizeable number of his followers, who would not do that. Some of them would like to join hands with Raj. To a great extent, Raj has inherited several qualities of Bal Thackeray. Like Bal Thackeray, he is a good orator, has a good sense of humour, can keep the audience spellbound, can make people feel that he is indispensable, he is a good organiser, a good leader and a very good cartoonist, to name a few of his qualities. He also resembles Bal Thackeray in his younger days.
Aditya has not been able to yet display his leadership and oratorical qualities, though he seems to be a leader in the making; one better than his father; but he is too young at the moment to carry the legacy and the mantle left by his grandfather.
Many would have loved to go with Raj Thackeray when he walked out on the Sena and launched his own party, but they desisted from doing so, only due to their loyalty for Bal Thackeray.
Thackeray has made Maharashtrians believe that he was their only saviour, just the way he made the Hindus believe so. The Shiv Sainiks would want to look out for a leader, who would be the true heir to the Thackeray crown.
There are too many things at stake and it would be in the interest of the family and the Sena for the two cousins to come together, so that the Sena can be kept alive with the same fervour.