What ails Shiv Sena?
By Anil Nair from Mumbai
There is a purge in Shiv Sena, or rather as the Marathi media puts it, a churn. Raj Thackeray, the first among the scions to have rebelled against the Sena is in the process of forming another party. The BJP, in the meanwhile, is in readiness to occupy the vacuum created by the Sena'scrumbling misfortunes. Raj Thackeray has been stationed in Pune for several days now and has been distributing forms to his supporters which seek to know their details, only as if to make a database for his party in the making. He might be trying to gauge his real strength.
Shiv Sena has been in turmoil ever since Sanjay Nirupam made his exit from the party in a huff. Then was the satrap Narayan Rane'sturn to leave with a huge support base ? which was proved in the last by-elections in Malvan. Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal says that he was the first to have revolted against the party high command when he found that he was being sidelined by the dynasty. What ails Shiv Sena? An organisation started by the maverick leader Balasaheb Thackeray which stood up to the existing political parties through most of its life, a party which fascinated the young Marathi in Mumbai, the party that showed incredible strength in facing adversities and which once had an invincible image is today crumbling. Is there no way to stem the rot.
Some might even suggest that the purge is always good, in the sense that the real Sainiks will be left in the party. But can the party take such a loss in its stride without having to give up its political space. The reality is that Shiv Sena which was build on the Marathi ethos has had diminishing returns. The Shiv Sena, undoubtedly, have given Marathi youth a level-playing field by forcing local public and private companies to employ Maharashtrian youth. But as time passed, and as the situation changed in the marketplace, the Marathi youth no more cavil at the discrimination against them.
On the other hand, the inflow of ?outsiders? into Mumbai has burgeoned to an extent that Shiv Sena now finds it hard to win elections on its Marathi Manoos plank. For the last several years the attraction of Shiv Sena'smilitant appeal has waned. Even though Balasaheb did try to improve his stake by including Hindutva in his vocabulary, the conflict of interest between the Marathi Manoos and north and south Indian Hindus in Mumbai could never be bridged.
Balasaheb'srecent edit in Saamna also bore the stamp of a quiet admission of things going wrong somewhere. When Sainiks supporting Raj overturned Saamna editor Sanjay Raut'scar when he had gone to meet Raj at his residence, Balasaheb'sedit in his paper was eloquent enough for anyone to understand the wedge that has been driven into the Sainiks. Where was this josh in display when Shiv Sena desperately needed help in the Malvan elections?, was his poignant question. In a word, the Sena supremo is seeking accountability from Sena cadres.