MUMBAI: Is Raj Thackeray striding on the path of his uncle? Is Raj Thackeray imitating Balasaheb Thackeray of 1970s?
These questions are being asked in political circles of Maharashtra. A strict watch is being kept on the moves of Raj Thackeray and his political outfit MNS after some MNS workers vandalized signboards of shops written in Gujarati.
It seems that MNS has revived the anti Gujarati signboard campaign. However these pro-Marathi activists instead damaged the signboards of a Marathi jeweler and a South Indian hotelier from Mahim and Prabhadevi in the first and recent outburst.
P.N .Gadgil Jewelers, a Marathi shop owner and an Udupi restaurant run by Kannadigas were vandalized by MNS workers. These shops sported signboards in Gujarati.
Traders on the other hand rushed to the Chief Minister of Maharshtra. The traders association asked for police protection against this hoodalism. Viren Shah, President, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, said that if MNS cadres do not stop their violence against traders having Gujarati signboards, the Federation will move Bombay High Court for action. The traders said that according to BMC rules, while a trader can display signboard in Marathi, they are also permitted to use English, Gujarati and other languages.
Is Raj Thackeray imitating Bal Thackeray of 1966? This can be understood by looking into history.
The senior Thackeray rose as a Marathi leader during 1960s by targeting South Indians, commonly known as ‘Madrasi’. All kind of methods like organizing protests, processions, raising slogans, giving ultimatum were employed by Sena leaders.
They threatened the traders and businessmen to employ Marathis only. They encouraged property owners not to rent or sell their properties to Madrasis. Theatres showing Tamil films in Mumbai were targeted and told not to screen South Indian Movies.
Many such theaters shut their doors for weeks to avoid violence. During the mob violence against South Indians, many citizens were thrashed by Shiv Sainiks for being Madrasis.
This violent movement got tremendous support and sympathy from Marathi youths and Bal Thakrey became their leader.
Shiv Sena organized its first huge rally at Shivaji Park in 1966. When Shiv Sainiks dispersed from Shivaji Park, they began attacking Udupi restaurants which were symbols of South Indian presence and affluence in the city.
Thus Shiv Sena began its violent style of politics in the city and state.