The Sena and its twisted logic

Updated - November 26, 2021 10:26 pm IST

Published - August 20, 2015 12:52 am IST

It is difficult to say whether the Shiv Sena takes offence or feels proud when its founder Bal Thackeray is spoken of as a terrorist with a religious cause. After the weekly Tehelka carried a cover story with pictures of Thackeray, Dawood Ibrahim, Yakub Memon and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale above the legend, ‘Who is the biggest terrorist?’, the Sena responded in a rather strange manner. While condemning the depiction of Thackeray alongside those who engaged in violence in the name of religion, the Sena organ Saamna , in an editorial, >asked Hindus to act as “human bombs” and invade Pakistan. Thackeray, the editorial wrote approvingly, had instilled the “fear of Hindus” in Indians of other faiths. Far from defending the Sena founder against the charge of being a Hindu terrorist, the editorial appeared to be defending his support of violence in the name of Hinduism. What differentiated Thackeray from the others? According to the editorial’s reasoning, the Sena founder was a dharmabhimaani , a person who took pride in his faith, and not dharmaandh , someone who was motivated by blind faith. This line of defence, whether true to the facts or not, would have been fine but for the editorial’s exhortation to Hindus to turn themselves into human bombs and attack Pakistan. In one stroke, the disputes between India and Pakistan were turned into a Hindu-Muslim issue. By arguing that Hindus would have to be highly religious if they wanted to respond to Pakistani extremists, the editorial, in effect, identified nationalism with Hinduism.

The veiled threats aimed at Tehelka and the exhortations to violence are typical of the politics of the Sena, which is mostly a combination of Marathi chauvinism and Hindutva. Normally, the Sena when in power is less virulent than when it is out of power. But of late the party has been under pressure in Maharashtra, >having ceded political space to the Bharatiya Janata Party . Having been for long the senior partner in the alliance of the two Hindutva parties, the Sena ended up as a poor second to the BJP in the Assembly election last year. Although its breakaway group, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena led by Raj Thackeray, >is no longer serious competition , the Sena doubtless feels obliged to push the limits of its extremist politics. As the senior partner in government, the BJP, which usually bristles whenever there is talk of ‘Hindu terror’, saying the phrase is an oxymoron, will have to ask the Sena to give up its aggressive brand of politics laced with threats of violence and talk of communal hatred. The Sena must be made to necessarily tone down its rhetoric, and behave more like a responsible party in government.

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