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The Nation of Our Dreams
Balasaheb Thackeray's vision

(Mr. Bal Thackeray, writing in a sponsored feature in the Indian Express, Mumbai on
October 11, 1998)

This is a Hindu nation. Here it is. Just as it was. And just as it
will be. Always, and forever....
After 300 long years, the saffron flies again over Maharashtra. The
saffron. The symbol of sacrifice. Prepare to welcome the saffron.
The march has begun, never to stop. Shiv Sainiks will carry the flag
to the East, to the West, to the North and to the South. Everywhere.
We will cross the Sahyadris. And we will breach the Himalayas. We will
paint the ramparts of the Red Fort in saffron. We must fulfil
Chhatrapati Maharaj's dram. We must build the Hindustan of our dreams.
It is a historic task we have set out to accomplish. So help us God.
Everywhere in the country people are turning to the Shiv Sena.
Anywhere you find a sense of insecurity among the Hindus, you will also
find the Shiv Sena. For the endangered and the insecure, for the
deprived and the depraved (sic), the Shiv Sena is the only hope. The
Shiv Sena can never betray the trust reposed by the hopeless millions.
The Shiv Sena is not just a political party. It is a tree growing
huge,striking its roots into the soil of this land, spreading its vast
branches to protect and preserve Hindustan....
It is our Hindustan we have to build. We have to create a Hindustan
for Hindus. We have to create a country where Hindus are respected.
The country where Hindutva will shine in all its glory. A country where
the anti-Hindu shall bow before the will of the Hindu. That is the
country we have to build.....
Look at our country. Our laws. Our rules. A whole long list of
don'ts meant only for Hindus. And who are the ones who are empowered?
The Mussalmans.
How long are we to tolerate this? How long are we to stand by and
watch these antics in the name of religion? How long will those in
power fool us? How long can we pretend not to see what goes on in the
name of concession to the so-called minorities?...
Let us have a little laugh over our peculiar brand of secularism. The
microphones blare at us spreading the word of Allah a good five times a
day. But no Hindu can dare to play cymbals or beat the prayer drums
while he passes the house of Allah.
Secularism in our context is but an opportunistic impartiality, which
was never intended to be, and therefore never will. It's just another
coinage and convenience, a piece of useful jargon. But the intent is
Look under the cover of this impartiality, and you will find an unholy
incest between purpose and intent.
Opportunism is the prophylactic (sic), but the demon will surely be
Someday, someday very soon, when the purpose and the intent stand at
cross-purposes, the membrane will be torn. And the bastard will be
conceived. The monster will be born. And our land will be cursed.
Look at the population. The growth in Hindu population is gradually
slowing down. But the Mussalman is on a rampage. From 30 million to
130 million! As if he was born only to breed. Somehow, oh, somehow,
can we somehow convince them that they are citizens of this country;
tell them that their identity is not in danger; their existence is not
in danger.
I do not call the Mussalman a traitor. But unfortunately for them,
their leadership is treacherous. The undoing of the Mussalmans in this
subcontinent is the lack of proper leadership. They have not had a
single good leader. Neither before, nor after the partition. Leaders
of the stature of Maulana Azad and Hamid Dalwai failed to pass on their
And what we are left with are the likes of Shahbuddin, Bukhari and
Banatwala. Tragicomic?.....
As I see it, there are only two sects of peoples in our country. One
has sworn allegiance to the country. The other is clearly against the
And as far as I can see it, there has never been any other sect.....For
being an Indian, it is not only important to abide by our laws, but it
is also important to live as we do, to accept our culture and to respect
our traditions. And not only that, one must accept that Hinduism has by
far the largest following in this country. This must be remembered.
Those who refuse to accept this have no right to live in this country.
Those who have all their lives spoken ill of Hindutva are not going to
be spared. Embrace this country in its entirety, as Hindustan. Else

Triumphant Tiger
Deccan Herald - Jan 23 1999

Though Sena Chief Bal Thackeray suspended the agitation launched
against the Indo-Pak cricket series, he has succeeded in establishing
himself as a parallel power centre.

The head office of the Board of Cricket Control in India is on the first floor of Stadium House (Brabourne Stadium) situated oa busy road in the central business district. The broad pavements are also crowded with pedestrians and hawkers. There are shops below the office, busy with customers. A narrow staircase where there is just enough room for one person to climb, leads from the pavement to the upper offices. At 2.30 in the afternoon on Monday, about 40 to 50 persons armed with hockey
sticks, rods and cricket stumps entered and attacked the place without anybody noticing it. They must have queued up outside on the pavement to make their way in. They entered the office, damaged the property and broke trophies which our cricketers had won with great effort.

They also attacked Sharad Diwadkar, a former cricketer and officer in-charge of the organisation whose vice-president is Manohar Joshi, the chief minister of the state and Sena leader. Though the attackers were Sena men, Joshi did not resign from the post he holds in the BCCI. Nor did he assure of any action against the vandals. Nevertheless, Sena leader Udhhav Thackeray declared that his party would take out a morcha to the Police Commissioner`s office to protest the arrest of ''innocents.``

Now let us turn to Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. In 1991 the pitch of Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was damaged by his men to oppose the Indo-Pak cricket match. This time he reiterated his resolve to disrupt the present series on November 20 last year. He also declared that he would dump the BJP on this issue and came down heavily on his long-time friend and Defence Minister George Fernandes for criticising that ''Thackeray says something in the morning and forgets it by evening.`` But finally he proved Fernandes right as he suspended his agitation after Union Home Minister L K Advani persuaded him on January 21. But the Sena chief did achieve what he was eyeing for. He established himself as a parallel power centre since the Union Government had to secure clearance from him for the Indo-Pak cricket series.

Volte face

Union Home Minister L K Advani, who is being projected as an ''iron man`` by the BJP, came down to Mumbai with a request to the extra-constitutional authority that the Indo-Pak cricket series be allowed to take place. Till the BJP came to power, Thackeray`s extra-constitutional authority was confined to Maharashtra only, thanks to the successive Congress governments. Now it has extended to New Delhi, Chennai and other places outside the state.

The people of Maharashtra are well aware of Thackeray`s history of making a volte face on various issues. During the Emergency he was on his knees before the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. He also backtracked from holding a meeting to force the state government for scrapping its decision of renaming of the Marathwada University after Dr B R Ambedkar. He did not even visit Aurangabad, as the police told him flatly that he would be arrested if he entered the city. The Tiger is very much
scared of being ensnared in a jail. But the successive Congress governments did not dare touch him, for various reasons, injecting life into the paper tiger.

The key of the large following that Thackeray is enjoying lies in the fact that no government, police or court has touched him so far.

But after the four-year saffron rule, the Thackeray empire is crumbling under its own weight. The trend was visible in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections also as the saffron combine faced a near rout. It also continued in subsequent Assembly by-polls and Zilla Parishad elections in four districts.


Two leading Marathi dailies - Maharashtra Times and Loksatta - hardly spared a word to criticise Thackeray`s stand this time. Kumar Ketkar, editor of Maharashtra Times even lambasted cricketers, Bollywood stars and other eminent personalities including Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bachhan and Sunil Gawaskar for crawling before Thackeray. Arun Tikekar, editor of Loksatta dissected the ''psuedo- nationalism`` of Thackeray. In the opinion poll conducted by Lokprabha, a Marathi weekly
of the Express Group which has over a lakh circulation, majority of people have voted against Thackeray`s stand. Senior leaders at the BJP office claim that Advani threatened Thackeray that his party would snap ties with the Sena which would bring down the state government headed by the Sena leader.

The Union home minister reportedly cautioned the Sena chief of ISI design to disrupt the Indo- Pak cricket series under the garb of the Sena men, taking advantage of Thackeray`s resolve and statements.

This theory hardly holds any water as invariably the BJP leaders are the first to issue statements about continuance of the alliance even as the Sena men act notoriously as directed by their chief.

The only plausible explanation is that the BJP came under severe attack from its allies - J Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu and Samata Party - and the only option left for the BJP is to sacrifice the Maharashtra government and face the elections, according to Kumar Ketkar.

''And therefore the Sena chief did not have any option but to stage a complete volte face,`` he said.

Nikhil Wagle, editor of Apla Mahanagar, a popular Marathi eveninger, while talking to Deccan Herald said after the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, the Sena chief is whipping up the Hindutva fever to divert people`s attention from the failure of his government on all fronts.

''He did not touch issues like price rise but asked his sainiks to disrupt Gulam Ali`s concert, imposed a ban on the censor cleared film Fire and so on,`` he pointed out adding that the Sena chief did not want the BJP to be the only saffron party to placate the Hindutva agency.

Sunil Tambe in Mumbai





Source: Economist, 2/3/96, Vol. 338 Issue 7951, p28, 7/9p, 1bw
Abstract: Reports on the power and leadership of Bal Thackeray, who leads India's Shiv Sena party which dominates the state government of Maharashtra. Thackeray's announcement of changing the name Bombay to Mumbai; India's central government accepting this change; Thackeray's background and personality; His reputation as a Hindu chauvinist; Talk of India becoming `Hindustan' if Thackeray has anything to say about it.


SOME people laughed when the state government of Maharashtra, India's most prosperous state, announced that it was changing the name of the city of Bombay to Mumbai. But India's central government has accepted the change and last month the venerable Times of India also made the shift. Reluctantly, putting courtesy before convention, The Economist will too.

The man responsible for the change is Bal Thackeray, who leads the Shiv Sena party, which dominates the Maharashtra government. Mr Thackeray seems to have other name changes in mind. He likes to talk about "Hindustan" rather than India--a habit which illustrates exactly why many Indians fear him. As India's leading Hindu chauvinist and a scourge of Muslims, he threatens the country's tradition of tolerance and secularism.

Mr Thackeray's latest campaign is aimed at the one religion all Indians have in common--cricket--and specifically at the cricket World Cup, which will be staged jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka later this month. If Pakistan's team reaches the semi-finals, it will have to play in India. Mr Thackeray has sworn it will not: "I will not allow them to step on my motherland," he says. "We will damage the pitch . . . The coach carrying them will not drive on the road from the airport . . . They will not step into the stadium."

Mr Thackeray may not be able to make good his threats. The Pakistanis will not be playing in Mumbai and have obtained official assurances from India that their players will be safe. But his posturing will add to his spiky reputation. He has even achieved international notoriety, courtesy of Salman Rushdie, who has managed to enrage Hindu chauvinists with a thinly disguised and unflattering portrait of Mr Thackeray in "The Moor's Last Sigh", his most recent novel. Fear of violence has led to the book being withdrawn in Mumbai.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Mr Thack eray is a Jekyll-and-Hyde character. Visitors find a mild man, proud of his age--69 last month. He says he used to enjoy drawing the "strong nose" of Indira Gandhi, a former prime minister, and would like now to get to grips with the sombre jowls of Narasimha Rao, the present prime minister. He holds no official post, but controls the coalition from a closely guarded house in a middle-class Mum bai suburb where he is building a dynasty, grooming a son and a nephew as Shiv Sena leaders. Manohar Joshi, the party's deputy leader, is Maharashtra's chief minister, but he has little real power and openly admits the authority of "Mr Remote Control".

Mr Remote Control (currently resting with a bad heart) has been more restrained than many had feared. When his party came unexpectedly to power in March, as part of a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, he talked about chasing non-Maharashtrans out of the state. That was not a credible policy, so he has broadened his attentions to Hindu fundamentalism. He insists that he does not want Muslims expelled from India, and that his real ire is aimed at Pakistan and at those Indian Muslims he sees as loyal to Pakistan. Businessmen credit the coalition with running a relatively effective government that is less corrupt (so far) than its predecessor, run by the Congress party.

But Mr Thackerary is showing signs of reverting to rabble-rousing type over the cricket tournament and other matters. Last week Maharashtra's state government caused a storm by closing a three-year-old official inquiry into communal riots that the Shiv Sena helped to incite. It has also replaced the state's top civil servant who opposed some of Mr Thackeray's plans.

The state government has extricated itself from the shambles it caused by scrapping--then renegotiating--a power project with En ron, an American company. But it remains equivocal about foreign investment. Mr Thackeray says he welcomes foreigners, but wants to protect Indian industries. "Don't come to kill our products, but if you have anything new, then we welcome it," he says. That leaves plenty of room for a xenophobic campaign in April's general election, in which, he hopes, Shiv Sena will expand across the country.

In more violent moods Mr Thackeray prods and provokes with a cartoonist's sense of the outrageous. He has even praised Hitler. He condemns the Holocaust, but says he admires Hitler for having "the charisma to cause a big earthquake for the whole world". He would like India "to imbibe that militant spirit". Cricketers and Muslims take note.


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Last updated: February 23, 2000 .