Wailers and vultures

‘With Bal Thackeray on Life Support, Mumbai braces for violence’. The New York Times in its “Notes from the world’s largest democracy” just could not let go of the opportunity.

But, then, this is what the Indian media has been doing. They positioned their OB vans, and how dare those Shiv Sainiks who had gathered near Matoshree, the Shiv Sena leader’s residence, come in the way of their ‘job’. Their job is not to wait for someone to die. Whenever that is to happen, they will know.

Some of them have complained about being hurt in scuffles. This is what happens when there are crowds. The SS has done far worse, with the people, with media-persons. But in the 90s news channels and their prominent anchors were not celebrities. The people who were beaten, whose offices destroyed were not important people in their scheme of things. What a strange coincidence that Nikhil Wagle, among the few who stood up to Bal Thackeray, is today part of one of these tosh news channels.

I have absolutely no sympathy for Thackeray the politician, and it does not even need to be emphasised. If you’ve been around during the 1992-93 riots, you would know, especially if you went where it mattered. Nor am I one of those “oh, it does not change anything only because s/he is dead/ailing”, although I would accord some respect to privacy. And at least I would not think it terribly funny to pun on his name or crack lame jokes. This is to be expected from people who get their information on timelines and find it easy to just lump along with any smart-ass.

Where were all these people when he was well and thriving? Hitting out at someone who is in a weak situation reveals the weakness of the people commenting. Does anyone recall the grand interviews Balasaheb gave to the media? You should watch some to get an idea about how deferential the media was. To see them today screeching about how his legacy is about violence is a tad bit amusing, not to mention that it states the obvious.

Regarding all this talk about how the sainiks have/will behave and what business they have to converge at his place, did anyone ask why Amitabh Bachchan landed up there? Lest anyone forgets or does not know, Mr. B holds a Sunday durbar at his residence. He comes out to greet his fans. The cops are required. He does this because he wants to reciprocate their love or some such thing. Well, then Mr. Thackeray has his supporters. The police force is needed to handle the situation.

And what exactly is the situation? Why does the media indulge in pre-empt strikes about “violence”? Yes, the sainiks can get excitable and agitated. Think about what happens down South when film stars and politicians have died. There are mass suicides.

Some shops did stay shut. Public transport was slow. Who put the germ of the idea that “something might happen” in the minds of these people? Even if some sainiks did go around asking people to down shutters, the snowballing effect is all thanks to the media and social networking sites.

The worst possible aspect is that they are using Muslim shoulders to fire their empty guns. As always, such ‘protective’ instinct is counterproductive.

There is the violence of the street. And the violence of using the possibility of such violence for one's benefit.


  1. Very very sad news.The Hindus have lost a brave Iron man and a real tiger like personality and a saviour to them.The country may not get another person like him.May the soul rest in peace.It is a great loss not only to Maharastrians but also to all Hindus.

  2. Some people are unique. In a good way, a bad way, many ways. I doubt if many Hindus share your views, just as I doubt that all others do not share your views.

  3. I am sad that in death we are glorifying shaitans , if he was nice we may have some stories of Dauwood or Hafeez Zaed. Media had to accurate portrayal . His legacy is of hate and intolerance FV you agree with it or not.
    Yesterday my nephew was asking about him comparing him to leaders like Shashi Tharoor or Nitesh Kumar or Lalu.
    He is just 12 , I tried to clear doubts but why we are glorifying fanatics . This time media also fails

  4. FV,

    I have noted the sekulaar terms of endearment that you (and others) have reserved for Bal Thakre.

    But I have also noted that he could never be brought to court, let alone be prosecuted for his supposed involvement in riots, his supposed hate speech or for his public espousal of views which go contrary to the sekulaar imagination.He never ever apologised for any of his utterances and never claimed to have been misquoted by media et al. Millions turned out for his funeral and the mega event held in the heart of a metropolis - forever on the edge - passed without a single instance of lawlessness. He was mourned by those on the street, by his political rivals and by the elite of Mumbai in equal measure. Condolence messages came even from the Prime Minister and the President.The third largest state of India went into a trauma-induced shock at the news of his death, though it was long anticipated. (I happened to be traveling across Maharashtra on that day and saw that there was a total shutdown even in the tiniest of villages. It could be nothing but spontaneous). I have also noted that he was accorded a state funeral by a govt headed by his political arch enemies (and in spite of the fact that he never held any political or legislative office in his life).

    The 'Hindu right'-isation of Indian politics came about thanks as much to Bal Thakre (a mere regional leader of a regional party) as to Advani and his Rath. Hopefully, it will stay the course.


    @ Manavendra,

    I suppose his legacy will be decided by his followers and dispassionate analysts and not by those like your grace, who find nothing but hate everywhere they see.

  5. I must say that I am relieved that it ended without any one making a big fuss and creating too many problems for the regular people. All countries have a right wing base and there will be political parties trying to cater to this base. The only real issue is how big this base is, if the base is not too big then that country will not sink into the dark ages.

  6. Manvendra:

    Calling people shaitan assumes the others are angels, which they are not. Balasaheb created a different political class and system. Let us see if it survives him.


    Indeed, there is a rightwing everywhere. Thackeray's base was limited, and it is fine. What matters how that base and his politics functioned/function.

  7. F&F:

    There is no denying the power he had to draw crowds, to appeal to them. I do know everything shut down, and in fact do not even oppose that.

    But, what is this?

    But I have also noted that he could never be brought to court, let alone be prosecuted for his supposed involvement in riots, his supposed hate speech or for his public espousal of views which go contrary to the sekulaar imagination.

    Too many "supposed" suppositions, when his hate speeches are on record, he was banned from voting, and SS was involved in the riots of '93.

    At least don't be so blinded that your imagination cooks up other people's imagination.


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