A Shiv Sena rally against price rise yesterday was reminiscent of the old-school protest from the 1990s, involving as it did the banging of steel plates with spoons while bicycles and bullock carts trundled along the streets.
Call it genes or an intentional effort, but even Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray took old party hands down memory lane with his speech and mannerisms reminding them of his grandfather, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
Women wielding plates and spoons made enough noise against food inflation and the new cap on purchase of subsidised cooking gas to bring alive the pre-2000 era of protests, when similar methods were popularly used during demonstrations in the city against price rise.
Led by Aaditya Thackeray, the protest rally began at 10 am and saw thousands of people walk the nearly two-kilometre stretch from Sena Bhavan to Siddhivinayak temple.
While some demonstrators were on carts drawn by bullocks and horses, many others took to the bicycle to protest against the recent diesel price hike.
Aaditya Thackeray had held his last rally during the civic elections, when Congress leader Narayan Rane’s son Nitish Rane had planned to stage a protest play outside Sena Bhavan.
Yesterday’s rally was a bit different, as it was not against any person but against the UPA government at the Centre for raising the price of diesel by Rs 5 and limiting the number of subsidised LPG cylinders per household to six a year.
Over 6,000 at rally
The Shiv Sena protest managed to get more than 6,000 people — some estimates put the number closer to 7,000 — on the streets, the most so far in any protest organised by various political parties against price rise over three straight days.
The rally started around 10 am from Shivaji Park and got over at 11.15 am at Siddhivinayak temple.
Talk like the Tiger
For most Shiv Sena workers, the rally marked the first time they saw Aaditya Thackeray giving a speech at a public event. People who had gathered to hear him had only one thing to say: the young Thackeray was trying to talk like his grandfather. He started the speech with a line that was a throwback to the combination of wit and warning made famous by his grandfather.
“Congress ne aaz awaaz baghitla ahe, kanakhali awaaz nahi baghitla (the Congress has heard noise today, but it is yet to hear the sound of our slap),” he said. He thundered on about the festival season being on and how the government had chosen an inopportune moment to raise prices.
“Why are the prices going up when there’s a festival? This is the time when people do a lot of cooking and many go out,” he said. “This will impact the public directly.”
Shiv Sena MLC Dr Deepak Sawant, who was present at the rally, said Aaditya did a good job with his first public speech. “Aaditya has his own personality that marks his presence, but yes, he did sound similar to Balasaheb,” Sawant said.
“It (the similarity) has to be there, as at the end of the day Saheb is his grandfather. At his first speech at a public rally, he did a good job. If one can manage to pull this big a crowd within short notice on a Sunday, it’s commendable. There were many women who protested along with us, as they are the worst affected because of the price rise.”
Aaditya’s father Uddhav made an appearance at Siddhivinayak, at the end of the rally. “It’s high time that people like Mamata (Banerjee) and others take some steps rather than just keep threatening to do so,” he said.
“If (Sharad) Pawar is really concerned about the common man, then he should leave the government. The government is targeting the common man during festivals (Ganeshotsav). The PM, who otherwise prefers to remain silent, not only talks but also does so proudly when he has to hike prices.”