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Maharashtra Elections: Why the Shiv Sena Leads an Unlikely Coalition

The Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has proved that its political ambitions are greater than its ideological commitments.

Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2019

The results of the Maharashtra state assembly elections held in October 2019 were assumed to be a foregone conclusion with the Bharatiya Janata Party–Shiv Sena ruling alliance set to sweep the polls. However, the Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar won a large haul of seats and its ally Congress too improved upon its previous tally. The run-up to the polls as well as the immediate aftermath has been anything but smooth between and for the BJP–Shiv Sena alliance.

Bal Thackeray

Bal Thackeray, the son of an anti-caste reformist, came from a background rich in learning and culture. Yet, he chose to use his learning and wit to destroy rather than create. Under his direction, the Sena resorted to intimidation and terror, first against south Indians, then communists and Muslims.

Worker Politics, Trade Unions and the Shiv Sena's Rise in Central Bombay

The Shiv Sena's rise from the 1960s was assisted in large part by its ability to effectively channel emotions based on identity. It was the mill areas of central Bombay that formed the battleground for different political parties as they fought for representation of the class that had played a key role in shaping the city's destiny. Whereas the actions of the left parties were limited to the workplace, the Sena, through its shakhas, ensconced itself in the neighbourhood and rather than radical worker concerns took up emotive issues relating to livelihood and identity that played up the image of the deprived Maharashtrian.

Lord Ganesha Yet Again!

A play was staged in this year's Ganesh festival in Delhi. The speaker of the Lok Sabha seemed to have liked it. Soon after the play was done in Mumbai. The current culture expert in the capital city of the Marathas, Uddhav Thackeray, did not like it. He wondered how such a play could have been performed in the festival. The episode is yet another example of a phenomenon of Maharashtra's cultural life - that of extragovernmental censorship, much more damaging than governmental censorship.

Politics, Religion and Our Ailing Public Institutions

It would, of course, be naive to imagine that the corrosion of our political life could be arrested simply by tightening up lawenforcement. And yet one can't escape the conclusion that the accelerating erosion of our public institutions, the apathy of the judges and the death of professionalism in the civil services - particularly the last of them - are matters of far more concern than the inroads of religion into the nation's politics.

Communal Riots: Review of 2001

Malegaon and Kanpur witnessed the most serious communal disturbances in 2001, which also saw several other riots as in previous years. The average riot in the post-Babri masjid demolition period is not as horrifying as previous ones; however, this provides little comfort. The West Bengal government, which has succeeded in maintaining communal peace, should become a role model for other states so that we achieve the goal of total amity.

Maharashtra : In Poor Light

shot back at the state government by demanding an enquiry into allegations of corruption in the Congress-led municipal corporations of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Tinaikar himself In Poor Light has expressed the fear that his report may lead to political Committees and commissions of inquiry have often spelt trouble for political parties, more so if elections are near at hand. Little wonder then that in Maharashtra the reports submitted by the one-man committee of former Mumbai municipal commissioner, S S Tinaikar, have quietened down the Shiv Sena and its normally voluble leaders.

Shivaji's Myth and Maharashtra's Syncretic Traditions

Despite fears of increasing communalisation in public life and the attempt to portray Shivaji as a 'Hindu' raja, long-standing syncretic traditions observed by followers of different communities, from diverse caste backgrounds continue to flourish till date across Maharashtra. As borne out by several case studies cited in this article, Hindus and Muslims frequent dargahs, mazars and chillahs, and there are instances of temples in the Konkan region drawing followers of Islam. There are also shrines and sacred sites that possess a dual identity - they are both a dargah and a temple at the same time; deities bear both Hindu and Islamic names and priests of both communities officiate at ceremonies.

From Abad to Nagar

GPD IT should be easy to see that in comparison with their BJP allies the Shiv Sena people have (at least) a faint tendency towards humour. When they decided to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar we thought that it was one of those attempts on the part of Bal Thackeray to have a good hearty laugh at the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who died in 1707. Even the attempt to laugh (towards the end of the 20th century) at a man who died at the beginning of the 18th was interesting because it gave us ideas of Reagan laughing at Hegel who, it is reasonably certain, was taken by him as an evil German spirit responsible for Marx who in turn was responsible for the evil empire in Russia. One would go on counting such delightful anachronist laughters creating historically alienating effects which even the 'Great BB' (Bertolt Brecht was referred as 'der grosse BB' The Great BB in the former GDR) could not have possibly thought of! One would have normally not expected this of the BJP That party has no sense of humour. The Sena has, albeit of the macabre variety. So we thought that the change of Aurangabad's name was a part of that! That it was not like calling Bombay Mumbai was clear from the very beginning, Insisting on Mumbai is like insisting on Guangzhon instead of Canton. Colonialism robs us not only of silver (and the like, and even that may not be true if the Cambridge Economic History of India is any guide, but let that pass) but also of languages and words. Why should the western world have changed Beijing into Peking? Or Guangzhon into Canton? Well, no particular reason except that not only the colonialists' word should prevail but also their pronunciation. So they went on re-spelling almost everything in Asia and Africa. That they are still changing words is obvious. Consider words like 'reforms' or 'radical' and their current usage and the point should be obvious. The Chinese were the first to point out that imperialist names or spellings will and have to be changed. Peking has to go and Beijing has to take its place, Thackeray may not admit any debt of gratitude to China but what he did to 'Bombay' was no different. Even token anti-imperialism seems to be the monopoly of right-wingers, whether in Maharashtra or in Iran, The 'Hinduhridaysamrat' (the emperor of the Hindu hearts), as Bal Thackeray likes to be called by his Sainlks, must have discovered before long that even token anti-imperialism is not his cup of cow's milk. He therefore decided to go one step in a backward direction. We should have said two steps. The first backward step was what he did (like everyone else in the state of Maharashtra lately) to the Marathi language. In the olden days there were several suffixes used to denote a town. To begin with there was 'abad' as in Aurangabad, There was, of course, 'nagar' as in Ahmednagar. There was 'pur' as in Nagpur. This usage of 'pur' had another speciality typical to Marathi. The 'u' in 'pur' is long. There was 'gav' as in Jalgav Puri and so on and so forth. The modern Maharashtrian seems to have forgotten all these words. Now everything is a 'nagar', Why? The reason is that those who want to rewrite history have forgotten what their history is. It is now aboring monotony. Why can't there be a Shivajipur in Maharashtra? Why does it have to be Shivajinagar instead? No answer, except perhaps the inevitable one. Those who claim to speak in the name of history do not know what it is, The variety and plurality of words also constitute history. Of course, this would be too much of intellectualism for the Sena people. As for the BJP people, as long as Kashi and Mathura and thereby Hindi are safe they could not care less about what happens to other languages. Hence the unchallenged craze for Nagar. Change everything to Nagar. The Congress people would want everything after the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The 'yuti' (the coalition) wants every city and town to be a Nagar! Pride of Marathi has resulted in ignorance of Marathi.


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