The brittle Raj

Jaya Bachchan, as expected, said, “I don’t know who Raj Thackeray is.” She emphasised that she only knows Bal Thackeray and his son Udhhav. Smart woman, as always the sharp guddi. There is some substance to what Raj said about Amitabh; everyone knows that Uttar Pradesh is run by this close-knit mafia of Mulayam Singh, Amar Singh and the Bachchans, with Anil Ambani and Subroto Roy making guest appearances.

She said with a deadpan expression that if the Maharashtra government gave them land they would build a school named after daughter-in-law Aishwariya. No one has bothered to question how they are getting land in UP. But then, a lot has been happening there…

By hitting out at Raj she forgets that his animosity towards the North Indians has been learned from his uncle, Balasaheb, whose grandson’s book launch her husband attended and showered treacly praise on the ‘heritage’.

Now live with it.

Coming to the main protagonist, Raj Thackeray, I had written about him a while ago and reproduce it here:

The one time I saw him has remained etched in memory. I was waiting to get out of the car at an office building in Nariman Point. A monster SUV blocked the entrance. Two gun-toting bodyguards jumped out and stood at attention. A man wearing a starched shirt that would look better in a laundry than on a human body stepped out. He flicked his hair, which was blow-dried and very likely sprayed to stay in place, for that motion of the head moving did not seem to affect it; it flopped back in a neat fall. He went in, leaving the place reeking of an indecipherable strong fragrance.

It did not smell of power. It had the scent of obsessiveness about it. Even desperation.

Raj Thackeray, it was said, walked, talked and even thought like his uncle, the Shiv Sena leader. The man I saw that day seemed more like a small-time struggler faking it in a Bollywood blockbuster.

In some ways, that has been Raj’s story.

Little man tries to emulate marquee man. Realises with time that cloning does not work. Not in the long run.

In the short run it worked like a dream which turned into a nightmare for many.

Raj became the Sena’s ‘hitman’. In Hindi film terminology, he was the spot boy, the makeup man, the stunt artiste. The problem is, he started living those parts. He went around carrying a mirror to look at himself, he worked on his gestures, he took part in the street fights.

As sidekick he got a few brownie points and a place next to that ridiculous Maharaja chair that Balasaheb occupies. But he was no Birbal or Chanakya. He was just another loyal soldier with the right name.

During the Mumbai riots it was Raj who was known for his pugnaciousness (much as Sanjay Gandhi was during the Emergency). At the shakhas, Raj groomed the lumpens. He fit in perfectly in the Shiv Sena scheme of things.

He may have quit the party and started his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, but nothing much has changed...

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