'While targeting Muslims for its political gameplan, the Sena needs to check its own political path. Else, it could face the same debacle as the MNS and lose its identity completely,' warns Neeta Kohlatkar.
The way the Shiv Sena is behaving of late clearly indicates its desperation.
Politically, Sena leaders are scrambling to ensure their party doesn't end up like Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
The Sena also seems to be caught in an internal struggle -- whether to portray itself as pro-development or revert to its hardened and violent Hindutva. At the same time it is also trying to retain its original identity which it lost to the MNS, as a party for the 'Marathi manoos.'
A recent editorial by Sanjay Raut, the editor of the Sena newspaper Saamna, hit a new low. Raut wrote that the voting rights of Muslims should be withdrawn as they have always been used as a vote-bank by the so-called secular parties.
This desperation by a Member of Parliament reflects the thinking within the Sena. From having more seats in alliance prior to the last election, to be reduced to a junior partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party is an insult Sena leaders just can't bear. The Sena has realised it was rejected by a majority of voters in last year's state elections.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election the Sena, in alliance with the BJP, won votes purely due to the Narendra Modi wave. After the death of the Sena's founder leader Bal Thackeray, his son Uddhav is struggling to get the party out of its old thinking and his father's politics. In that process, the Sena is losing its identity.
Raut's editorial has compelled BJP leaders to distance themselves from his controversial remarks. BJP leaders say these are the Sena's opinions.
I won't be surprised if Sena leaders taunt the BJP and Modi soon. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak believes Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did not tackle the beef ban issue well. The Sena's tactics seem straight out of the RSS's book, and has taken the Sangh by surprise.
The Sena's statements are shocking and intriguing. A political party has been brainwashing the Hindu population by saying that the minorities will soon overtake the majority. We saw the ghar wapsi programme, then the beef ban and now a demand for a denial of voting rights.
If it were that easy for Muslims to buy homes in Mumbai's housing societies, they would not be living in ghettos today. The Muslims themselves are tired of being appeased and used for votes. Sanjay Raut forgets that after the December 1992-January 1993 communal riots and the 1993 blasts in what was then Bombay, the Muslim community voted for the Sena-BJP alliance to live in harmony.
The Sena needs to stop this minority bashing and worry about its future. The rise of Uddhav's son Aditya Thackeray and his team and their clash with the Sena's old guard is clear to political observers.
The stakes are high. While targeting Muslims for its political gameplan, the Sena needs to check its own political path. Else, it could face the same debacle as the MNS and lose its identity completely.