The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


There were naturally curious and routine questions on the large crowd that followed the Maharashtrian leader Bal Thackeray on his last journey when he was cremated at the Shivaji Park on November 18. Now the place where he was cremated in the iconic park is a matter of intense debate propelled by the divisive politics and its militant elements, a forte of Shiv Sena and MNS.

Yes, militant politics, that is what Bal Thackeray, the controversy’s favourite child, had done throughout his life, and his name continues to do so even after his death.

If we put aside the ‘quality politics’ debate, Bal Thackeray was the tallest political figure in Maharashtra since his full-scale advent in the Maharashtra political arena.

He created and nurtured a follower base that basically was glued to him by traits of a ‘mob mentality’. Now many can raise questions on using this phrase but it aptly defines the style of politics Bal Thackeray practiced (and so of many others).

A mob is defined by certain basic traits. It doesn’t have a character. It always looks for a charismatic leader and the character of the leader becomes the character of the mob. A slight instigation from the leader is enough for them to commit even violent acts (contrary to the democratic values). And the charisma of the leader continues till long till he retires, dies or falls from grace because the bond between the leader and the follower was not made on a thoughtful note but on a impulsive note of ‘threatened survival’ devoid of the rational elements of thinking.

In societies like India where poverty and unemployment are rampant, instigating such mobs is not a difficult task provided you hit the right note; provided you are ready to promote radical elements in a society that, in reality, needs harmony of ‘unity in diversity’; provided you are ready to exploit the militant brand of politics that shatters this ‘unity in diversity’ concept.

Bal Thackeray exactly did this. He addressed the concerns of the local Marathi population by demonizing the migrants in Maharashtra, first the South Indians and now the North Indians. He used the concepts of sectarian politics under the garb of Maratha politics, floated this ideology mixed with witty but divisive words and threw open the gates for the masses to grab the words. In short, he created the situational elements for a ‘mob’ class of followers.

Bal Thackeray timed it well with the then geopolitical circumstances of India and of Maharashtra and he got his mob, in full accordance with the mob mentality that he sought to promote. The history of Shiv Sena and MNS is full of incidents of vandalism and that tells us how successful Bal Thackeray had been in exploiting the mob mentality of his followers.

It was this mob mentality that paid its tribute to Bal Thackeray when almost two million of them descended on the Mumbai roads on November 18. Mob, because no conscious and truly nationalist person (of a democracy) would endorse the style and quality of politics that Bal Thackeray practiced and that Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray are practicing.

Leaders across the globe, over the ages, have exploited this character of the mob to look for and follow a leader. Crusaders did it. Nazis and Fascists did it. Expansionist regimes did it. Radical elements are doing it.

What Thackeray did has been a practiced political practice. Many other Indian leaders are doing so. Many have been doing so in the past. Leaders, especially of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayali, Rajasthani, Punjabi Sikh, and Northeast tribal origins have been practicing regional politics of hatred for years but no one took it to the extremes that Bal Thackeray did.

He branded the outsiders in Maharashtra (though very much Indian) as the root-cause behind problems of Maharashtrian people. People in distress (and there were millions of them) and people not in distress but having strong notions of regional identity (a significant lot) who were not finding any other alternative to their problems (or mental blocks), found the escape-route in Thackeray’s words; in his doctrine of sectarian hatred.

How Thackeray exploited this initial mobilization on his call makes the history Bal Thackeray wrote in theMaharashtra politics. Being a good orator and hailing from a creative background, he diverted his strength into fomenting elements of sectarian politics in Maharashtra. He exploited the inherent fear of survival and livelihood. He, under his radical style of politics, promoted hostile elements who acted like mobs even resorting to violent means to extend Shiv Sena’s electoral footprint.

Shiv Sena and its offshoot, MNS, both have followed this line of politics in Maharashtra. Both these parties are synonymous with politics of vandalism if to put it in the perspective of ‘bandh’ and other disruptive activities of these two Thackeray outfits.

The memorial row is nothing but just yet another example of that brand of the militant politics promoted and nurtured by Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena. And we need to be ready to witness more of it in the coming days.

The current breed of Thackerays in the office now, Raj and Uddhav, are not as tall as Bal Thackeray was in the Maratha politics. Both of them are well past their formative years and have not been able to make a significant presence felt till now.

Yes, MNS has done well in the recent elections but that show still doesn’t qualify to sustain a long run in the politics. Until now, the both Thakcerays were under the Bal Thackeray patronage and though operating different political outfits, they had the singular influence and charisma of the senior Thackeray to back them.

Now that is gone.  

Both of them should realize they are a vulnerable lot irrespective of the millions strong gathering for the Thackeray Senior funeral.

Both of them realize that to remain relevant in the regional, and to some extent, in the national politics, they need to perform well in assembly and parliamentary elections.

They know there are many other taller leaders in Maharashtra politics who can easily outshine them now with the mainstream political agenda because the Thackerays are now minus the Bal Thackeray charisma.

So they would do all to grab the attention, to gain the maximum out of the Bal Thackeray legacy and given the constituency, the senior Thackeray and they have nurtured over the years, they are left with nothing but their militant politics to follow.

The mob that gathered in Thackeray’s funeral would certainly have fired the ambitions to follow the tried and tested line of Sena-style politics.

And the present Shiv Sena leadership has already begun on this line. The vandals of Shiv Sena damaged private property and threatened kins of two girls on an innocuous Facebook post on the ‘bandh’ observed after senior Thackeray’s death. Shiv Sena vandals got two simple girls arrested for it. Their crime - one had posted while her friend had merely liked it. After much media attention and the subsequent criticism, the girls were freed.

We need to be ready for more such ‘Sena bravado’ as the vandals already have the next line of ammunition in the Thackeray memorial row.

While Congress and MNS are opposed to its Sena-demanded place at Shivaji Park, NCP is doing only politicking not directly opposing the Sena’s demand. BMC has served Sena a notice to remove the temporary memorial and Sena is issuing warnings and threats against the removal.

Uddhav Thackeray is already talking of running the show in the name of the patriarch and he and his party would do all to keep the memorial issue burning in the immediate run to gain the political mobilization of the mob-base of Shiv Sena supporters from Thackeray Senior to Thackeray Junior.

And Uddhav and Raj differences that have emerged again would force the MNS to adopt the similar line if the Shiv Sena plans to mobilize the support base using the Sena-style of militant politics works.

It is going to be the mob mentality on the display again.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -