As Uddhav Thackeray tendered his resignation, tension prevailed in the state. There were reports of Mumbai police being on high alert as they feared Uddhav supporters would take to the streets. Their fear wasn’t totally baseless as ‘peaceful’ Thackeray supporters were on the streets unleashing violence ‘peacefully’.
Violent protests by Shiv Sainiks belonging to both Thackeray and Shinde camps have been witnessed across Maharashtra in the last few days following Eknath Shinde’s decision to break away from the Shiv Sena citing the ideological drift of the Sena ever since it joined casteist-Islamist ‘secular’ Congress-NCP camp.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) sarkar had been indulging in not just Muslim appeasement but also silencing criticism from political opponents and common citizens alike. Shinde was spot on when he stated that Shiv Sena had drifted away from Hindutva as is evident from the kind of support that was seen for the Sena Chief.
Thackeray’s tenure has been marked by minority appeasement and violence. In March last year, MVA cabinet minister Aslam Sheikh had given assurances of Muslim reservation. The same government that has been dilly-dallying and remained non-committal about Maratha reservations, for which it criticized former BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis, has lost no time in assuring reservations for Muslims in a classic display of minority pandering and vote-bank politics.
The MVA government banned Chhath Puja in 2020 but in contrast, it gave in to the demands of Raza Academy, involved in the Azad Maidan riots, by allowing Eid processions and celebrations in October even though the threat of pandemic was higher and when it had placed restrictions on Hindu festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Navaratri. Navneet Rana and her husband were arrested for wanting to chant Hanuman Chalisa.
It may be recalled that Hindupost had reported about how the MVA government was set to release 1.8 crores as ‘salaries’ for madrassa teachers at a time when it did not even have money to pay doctors and other healthcare staff. On the one hand, the MVA government has placed strict restrictions on celebrations of Hindu festivals, and on the other, it has ‘requested’ Muslims to contain Eid celebrations ‘if possible’. In other words, Hindus would have to face the law for violations while Muslims get a free hand to celebrate.
The instances of Shiv Sena hooliganism under Thackeray have been far too many. In two separate incidents in Jalgaon, Shiv Sena goons were seen thrashing common citizens for putting up ‘offensive’ posts against Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray in March this year. In August 2021, two BJP leaders, one of whom is a union minister, were assaulted by Shiv Sena hooligans. Within the span of a week, Kirit Somaiya was attacked allegedly by Sena goons, and Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested in a highhanded manner by the Ratnagiri police.
Sena goons had assaulted a Navy veteran for simply forwarding a message on WhatsApp, then MVA minister Jitendra Awhad had Thane resident Anant Karmuse abducted and beaten black and blue for an alleged offensive Facebook post, BJP leader Satish Katekar was assaulted publicly by Sena goons in Pandharpur for criticizing Uddhav Thackeray earlier last year. These are just some of the instances of hooliganism Maharashtra has witnessed ever since MVA gained a back-door entry to form the government in the state.
On May 14, NCP hooligans bashed up BJP spokesperson Vinayak Ambekar for allegedly putting up a Facebook post that criticized Pawar. Pawar had made a remark derogating Hindu deities by calling himself ‘father’ of Hindu deities. He conveniently used a poetry by Jawahar Rathod to make the comment.
Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale was arrested on May 14 and sent to judicial custody till May 18 on charges of posting ‘derogatory’ remarks against Sharad Pawar. NCP leader Jitendra Awhad had Nashik youth Nikhil Bhamre arrested for his social media post. Awhad had demanded action against Nikhil for allegedly criticizing Pawar.
These aren’t lone instances of MVA’s fascism and muzzling voices opposed to their point of view has been par for the course in Maharashtra ever since the unholy trio of Shiv Sena (SS), NCP, and Congress have joined hands.
Here are some instances of MVA hooliganism:
1) Numerous instances of violence by MVA in general and SS and NCP cadres, in particular, came to the fore during the ruling coalition’s bandh call last October.
2) Last September, Abhijeet Limaye, the admin of FB (Facebook) page Lakhoba Lokhande, was arrested by the Pune Police Cyber cell on the basis of the complaint by NCP workers for supposedly posting ‘offensive’ comments against MVA leaders. MVA workers blackened his face as Pune police brought him to the court and forced him to issue an apology stating he wouldn’t comment against MVA.
3) September 2020 – Navy veteran assaulted for sharing WhatsApp (WA) forward alleging ‘derogatory’ depiction of CM Uddhav Thackeray. What can be more shameful than workers of the ruling MVA dispensation being punched in the eye because he shared a cartoon depicting Thackeray’s reality?
4) April 2020- Thane resident Anant Karmuse abducted and beaten black and blue at MVA minister Jitendra Awhad’s Thane bungalow.
5) February 2021- BJP leader Satish Katekar assaulted in Pandharpur for raising his voice against inflated electricity bills. Katekar was forced to wear bangles (considered a sign of weakness by misogynists) and a saree was draped around his head. He was paraded in public and the goons sloganeered in unison.
6) August 2021 – BJP leader Kirit Somaiya who has been systematically exposing the corruption of the MVA government was attacked as stones were pelted and black ink was thrown on his car in Washim.
7) December 2019 – Wadala resident Hiramani Tiwari was physically assaulted and his head was shaven by Sena goons for his comment against Uddhav Thackeray.
8) August 2021 – Union Minister Narayan Rane was taken into custody in a display of highhandedness.
9) May 2021 – Pradip Gavade, Secretary of BJP’s Yuva Morcha was taken into custody by the Bandra Police Cyber Cell from his Pune residence for allegedly criticizing NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar and his grandson Rohit Pawar. Gavade was booked under sections 295A, 500, and 505/2 of the IPC as well as IT Act 67. Gavade was later released.
Hooliganism, minority appeasement, and misgovernance have been the hallmark of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government. The Mumbai Metro was one of the most ambitious projects of the city that was expected to ease the traffic load both on the local trains as well as roads. However, the project turned into a white elephant all thanks to woke activism that was actively supported by Shiv Sena, Congress, and NCP who later joined hands to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
It is also important to point out that the Thackeray government had blocked funds to the Jalyukt Shivar scheme and termed it to be ‘substandard’. In January last year, reports stated that the MVA government has decided not to release funds for the Jalyukt Shivar projects in Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, and Ahmednagar districts.