Mumbai A decade ago, saying something against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray would have resulted in violence in true Sena ‘ishtyle’.
However, the saffron outfit’s reaction to the alleged derogatory remarks against 83-year-old Thackeray, by Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi, have led political observers to believe that the roar of the Tiger has been replaced by the ’meeow’ of a cat.
Mr. Azmi told media here on Tuesday that “Bal Thackeray has gotten old. He is frustrated. He says he doesn’t want to die in Mumbai as people have not voted for him.”
“Had Azmi made these remarks some years ago, he would have been manhandled by Shiv Sainiks,” senior journalist and political analyst Aroon Tikekar told PTI.
“However, Uddhav is a different kind of leader. He won’t easily give consent to manhandle a person,” Mr. Tikekar said.
“Uddhav is a sober leader, even if he tries to behave like Balasaheb,” he added.
Sena’s offspring MNS, whose MLAs bashed up Azmi for not taking oath in Marathi, have another take.
“There is an ideological confusion in Shiv Sena leadership,” MNS general secretary Nitin Sardesai told PTI.
“They should have supported us on the Marathi issue in Assembly yesterday. There is no point saying later that Marathi is their plank,” he added.
After Azmi’s anti-Thackeray remarks, Shiv Sena members warned the Samajwadi Party MLA against making such remarks.
“Azmi will not be allowed to roam around if he dares say anything against Balasaheb,” Sena MLA Eknath Shinde said.
The Sena members protested Azmi’s remarks by stopping Azmi outside Vidhan Bhavan entrance and asking him to clarify the statement.
“Azmi told us that he has not said anything against Balasaheb. We warned him that he will face consequences over his remarks against our leader,” Shinde said.
The four-decade old Shiv Sena has had a violent history.
In 1989, Shiv Sena corporator Shridhar Khopkar was murdered shortly after he split from the Sena. The clout of Thane Sena strongman Anand Dighe rose amid rumours of his involvement in Khopkar’s murder.
In 2001, when Dighe died at a private hospital while being treated for a fratured leg, Shiv Sainiks torched the building, smashing ambulances, medical equipment and anything else in sight.