The annual Dussehra rally of Shiv Sena at Shivaji Park managed to draw crowds, but the fanaticism was missing, probably because of the absence of Bal Thackeray. His voice still rang through the ears of supporters in the form of a pre-recorded speech that was played out. And the Sena chief seemed to indicate that he was now on the verge of hanging up his boots.
“I am tired now. Earlier I used to give speeches for 60 minutes, would attend several programmes on a single day, and tours wouldn’t tire me. If it had been possible I would have come. However, I need the ‘shakti’ and would ask God to give me that. But I will surely come next time. I have been the Sena Pramukh for 45 years, all because of you. If I have forced Uddhav or Aaditya on you then make your own choices. The way you aided me, aid Uddhav and Aaditya from now on. Show the same trust and support for them too and let Shiv Sena become the strongest party,” he said.
The Tiger that roars always, was yesterday coughing and his tone was frail. His poor condition was evident as one could sense him gasping for breath while delivering the speech. But even in this state, he managed to take some digs at the government, and his all-time ‘favourite’ the Gandhi family. “We need to get the panchkadi (group of five) — the three Gandhis (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka), Robert Vadra, and Ahmed Patel out of this country, so India is safe. We had Mughals, then British and now an Italian. Throw Sonia out of power,” he said.
Speaking on his health, Thackeray said, “Once a patient goes to the doctor, he’s turned into an experiment. I was in Lilavati for nine days. But nothing has happened to my heart. My heart is with all of you – the Marathi manoos and Shivsainiks. My condition is poor; I can’t even walk now. But my heart will always remain with you and yours with me.”
However, the defeat of Sena in Dadar during BMC polls did compel Thackeray to touch upon the division of Marathi votes. “Sena was conceived here in Dadar and the Sena Bhawan is situated here. However, some people are now dividing the Marathi manoos,” he said.
Thackeray claimed the country currently lacks a leader. “We don’t have a leader. In Nanded one Muslim organisation from Hyderabad gets 11 corporators. How? What have we been doing for all these years that a foreign party wins so many seats?” he said. He also mentioned that because of the way Congress leaders were getting clean chits, India had become a nation of cheats.
According to Thackeray he couldn’t make sense of a rally being carried out in Mumbra when Malala got shot in Pakistan.
Hindutva was back in vogue, with Thackeray senior asking his men to see to it that only a sainik gets elected as mayor of Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad). Even Uddhav reminded people of the same. “Hindutva is the forgotten issue, and Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are occupying the country now. The people of a community created ruckus on August 11 (Azad Maidan incident) and one of them was caught in Bihar. What was the need for Bihar government to poke its nose? Mumbai wouldn’t have been Mumbai, if Shiv Sena hadn’t come out on the streets in 1993,” Uddhav said.
On the issue of inflation Uddhav said, “Thanks to inflation, the size of the Ravana idol is growing smaller. Soon Ravana would join us and support us in burning down inflation. Manmohan’s wife had said that increase the prices of everything, but not of gas. When a PM doesn’t listen to his wife, how do we expect him to listen to the public?”
Neither Uddhav nor Bal Thackeray let go of any opportunity to stress the point that only Shiv Sena is fighting for the Marathi manoos.
“Remember this, it was Shiv Sena that carried out the protest in favour of MHADA tenants, not anyone else. The MHADA homes are in a shambles and it seems the government is waiting for these homes to collapse, for the Marathi manoos to run away from Mumbai, so these lands can be handed over to builders,” said Uddhav.
Despite not being physically present, Bal Thackeray managed to get the maximum applause from the crowd.