After the uncertainty of the past few days, former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri launched his book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy at Worli’s Nehru Centre last evening.
The Shiv Sena had begun its protest in the morning by blackening the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, chief of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which was organising the event. But the protests were called off after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Shiv Sena, in a prolonged battle with its ally BJP, wanted attention. They were conspicuous by their absence during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Mumbai on Sunday. Yesterday’s incident was also an exension of the ‘oppose the BJP’ sentiment.
Rumblings of discontent had started a few days before the event, but reached a crescendo on Monday, with the Sena splashing ink on Kulkarni’s face. The act was vintage Shiv Sena style.
Despite the blatant display of thuggery, the event was held as per schedule, aided by heavy mobilisation of security.
For those looking for deeper meaning in this rigmarole, there is none. This is not a triumph of freedom of expression or the organiser’s stand of not bowing down to hooliganism. What it really is, is a political drama using a book launch as a platform for maximum publicity and eyeballs.
Sena got the attention it was striving for and gave the signal that it will not deviate from its trademark style of protests. The BJP, on the other hand, can claim victory in the fact that the book launch was eventually held with its support.
In the end, this was not about freedom or democracy or even the book. It was about the games politicians play.