Dynastic politics has always been a prominent feature of Indian politics. It is not just the Nehru-Gandhi ‘dynasty’ that dominates the political landscape. Take a look around your neighbourhood politician, or even the street hoardings that have made this city uglier than ever. Chances are that you will see a political family everywhere — husband and wife, father and son, father and daughter, mother and son, well, make any combination you like.
In this context, it is interesting to observe the hypocrisy of the Thackeray family, which has often regarded the Shiv Sena not as a political party of the masses, but as a fiefdom to lord over. The Sena ‘supremo’ (he does not have any official designation in the party) Bal Thackeray appealed to party followers on October 24 during the party’s annual Dussehra rally to support his son Uddhav and his grandson Aditya just as they have supported him all these years.
For a patriarch whose political platform for a long time was his opposition to dynastic politics, Thackeray Sr’s remarkable statement is nothing short of hypocrisy. It is also laughable as it shows that the power within the Sena will be concentrated at Kala Nagar, Bandra, and not elsewhere.
But that is how Indian politics has been functioning for a while, and the fear is that it will continue for a long time to come.
It is no secret within the party and outside it, that, Uddhav has not been able to make the Sena a force to reckon with in Maharashtra politics, since he took over as executive president of the party. The Sena still depends on the senior Thackeray to bring in the crowds, as was evident in the Wednesday rally.
If Sena has any hope of making it big once again in state politics — and the role of Raj Thackeray-led MNS could be a crucial factor — it will have to decentralise and create decision making centres elsewhere. And hypocrisy over dynastic politics is not going to help that cause.