Shiv Sena dissidents threaten Thackerays with counter-violence

April 4th, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Raj Thackeray
By Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Shiv Sena dissidents from North India, who resigned March 26, will launch a political party this month with the aim of contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha and assembly elections. “We have decided to form a new party, called the Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, later this month. Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is only for Maharashtrians. But we want to take the whole nation along with us,” said Jai Bhagwan Goyal, former head of the north India unit of Shiv Sena.

“If Raj ever comes to Delhi we will break his legs. I have told Bal Thackeray that if the violence occurs again, the Shiv Sena MPs visiting Delhi may have to face the music,” said Goyal, venting his anger at Raj Thackeray, founder of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Goyal and state chiefs of the Shiv Sena from five north Indian states resigned from the party in protest against Bal Thackeray and his son Udhav Thackeray’s diatribe against north Indians living in Maharashtra.

The decision came in the wake of an apprehension that the Northern Unit of the Shiv Sena will lose support among its voters, if it went along with the Mumbai leadership’s ’sons-of the soil’ campaign in Maharashtra.

Violence erupted when Bal Thackeray’s estranged nephew Raj Thackeray - head of Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)- spoke against North Indians in February. MNS members attacked workers from the Hindi heartland, who are earning a living in the state.

Realising that his party may lose the support of his traditional vote-bank of Marathis, Udhav joined the bandwagon by threatening to pack off north Indians arriving at the Mumbai airport. Later, Bal Thackeray pitched in attacking Chhat, a popular festival celebrated by the people of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, living in Maharashtra.

“There are numerous Marathis in high positions, right from the President of India and the Home Minister to the Petroleum minister and many others. Marathis are virtually running the country but we (North Indians) have never objected. What Bal Thackeray is doing is worse than the terrorists,” he said.

Goyal joined the Shiv Sena in 1988. His 20-year stint was very eventful.

“During these years I was involved in the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, the digging of the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch to prevent Pakistan from playing in India, opposing screening of the movie Fire (which dealt with lesbianism), boycotting the Pope’s visit to India and a host of other events,” he claims proudly.

But he feels the ‘golden period’ of the Shiv Sena is over.

“Bal Thackeray is 83 years old. He does not have much say in the party. His son Udhav is running the organisation. He listens to his coterie of sycophants. Moreover, both father and son are confined to Maharashtra politics. Our party will cater to Rashtrawad (nationalism), patriotism and Hindutva,” Goyal said.

Asked about his stand on the Sangh Parivar, of which Shiv Sena is a constituent, Goyal said: “When the violence against North Indians erupted in Maharasthra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did nothing. But we still have an open mind on interacting with the Sangh.”

Goyal boasts of full support from the 20 Shiv Sena leaders who resigned with him. These include former heads of Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The new party would be wooing North Indians in Maharashtra during the polls. Goyal does not care if a splintered Shiv Sena, going in three directions, benefits the Congress.

Neither does he consider Samajwadi Party, which took up cudgels on behalf of North Indians, as a possible ally or even a threat to its prospects. “We do not adhere to their politics,” he said curtly.

“We are keeping the Shiv Sena name. Bal Thackeray does not have an exclusive right to it,” Goyal said.

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