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Thackeray goes down memory lane, and longs for gutsy leadership

The sight of policemen caning slogan-shouting freedom fighters at Shivaji Park and the very next moment throwing down their batons and yellow hats to join the demonstrators still remains fresh in the memory of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

Thackeray recollected the heady days of the freedom movement in 1942, when even the Indian policemen were overcome by the grit and determination of the people who continued to sing patriotic songs while facing the cops's blows.

He said the policemen had thrown away their official trappings shouting, ''We don't want this job.''

Thackeray regretted that such a ''gutsy'' attitude was missing nowadays among the people as well as politicians.

The country really needs bold and gutsy leaders who can take it to the 21st century without caring for personal gains, he said.

About Prime Minister I K Gujral, Thackeray said, ''He is a very good man, walking a tight rope. But he is only concentrating on party affairs, balancing and pleasing 13 parties instead of concentrating on the nation.''

The Sena always supported a gutsy attitude and that is why it is backing former chief election commissioner T N Seshan for the Presidential election, Thackeray said.

''Seshan is a man of action and principles and the whole nation would have voted for him had there been presidential-type of elections like in the United States of America,'' he added.

A ''state of horror'' is the right description for the chaos that prevails in the country, the Sena chief said. This is because the the Centre has not been implementing laws, rules and regulations since Independence.

''Spiralling prices prove that we have totally failed on the economic front,'' said Thackeray, blaming the politicians who have always been self-centred.

The country needs a stable government which can concentrate fully on development, he said adding in a lighter vein, ''We do not want a stable.''

About his own contributions towards the freedom movement, Thackeray referred to the cartoons in the Free Press Journal. The process of awakening the people is still on, and he has succeeded to a great extent. It will continue till the end, he added.

The Sena chief claimed he had always rebelled against injustice and that his family, especially his father Prabodhankar Thackeray, a noted social reformer, had influenced him.

Thackeray said he had inherited fighting qualities from his father who created a flutter among the Brahmin community with his writings in his fortnightly Prabodhan. He came to be known as ''Prabodhankar'' due to this.

Recalling his father's role in the anti-dowry movement, Thackeray said Prabodhankar and his men used to participate in marriage processions. Clad entirely in black, leaving only slits for the eyes and nose, the 500-strong processionists followed a donkey with a wedding head-band carrying the message, ''A person taking dowry is going for a marriage.''

Even the British had supported his father when some Brahmins moved the court against his anti-dowry demonstrations. When the matter came before the court, a British judge asked, ''Why is the police harassing Prabodhankar when he is fighting for a good cause?''


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