As you sow, so you reap

Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari, speaking to me in another context (of Pramod Mahajan’s troubled son Rahul), had once said, “Jaisa beej boya, vaisa hi phal paya (as you sow, so you reap).’’

Now those words come back to me as I think of Bal Thackeray – sometimes I really do feel sorry for the Shiv Sena supremo. Soon after his party had come to power in Maharashtra, one son, Jaidev, was caught illegally hunting deer in the Borivli National Park to the north of Bombay.

Then there were rumours, never fully accounted for, that Sena supporter and actor Nana Patekar had fallen out with Thackeray over the misbehaviour of his eldest son Bindumadhav with actress Manish Koirala during the shooting of Agnisakshi (Bindumadhav was the producer). The incident was said to have given Thackeray the heart attack that ended in a bypass surgery.

Then, of course, Jaidev’s friends were briefly held by the police for extortion in Thackeray’s name; he is also alleged to have ended up at Matoshree, Thackeray’s residence, one evening, firing randomly into the air, complaining of favouritism by his father, and had to be overpowered by the cops on guard duty outside.

Now that one generation has more or less mellowed and settled down to the business of life, another seems to be erupting into focus for all the wrong reasons. The police this week busted a girls’ dance bar (dance bars were outlawed in 2006 by the Congress-NCP government), owned by the late Bindumadhav and now supposedly managed by his son Nihar, for allegedly running a prostitution racket from within its premises.

Thackeray and his son Uddhav, the working president of the Sena, have so far said nothing about it. But Thackeray’s estranged nephew, Raj, has come out in defence of his dead cousin’s son, saying he had nothing to do with its running. Yet, Nihar is a fugitive today.

I recall Rashmi, Uddhav’s wife, telling me years ago when her sons were still in their infancy, “There is no one here to discipline them but me. I am the only one who can wield the rod against them and I have had to set my own ambitions aside (she had wanted to start a boutique crockery store) to ensure that my sons grow up into well-adjusted human beings.’’

Rashmi had then told me that the aura of power at Matoshree was so thick that no one at Thackeray’s residence seemed to be able to overcome it. “I noticed that my son sometimes tends to pick up swear words from my father-in-law. None of the people hanging around him are able to tell the children that using such language is wrong. On the contrary, they tend to laugh as though the boys have said something clever and that subtly encourages them. Now, if I don’t stay at home and watch them like a hawk all their waking hours, they will grow bad by the time they hit their teens and then it will be very difficult to correct them and bring them onto the straight and narrow path again.’’

The years of effort have paid off. Uddhav’s sons have grown up into trouble-free boys. But obviously Rashmi’s exhortation to her brother-in-law’s children never to be caught even on the fringes of an anti-social activity did not have the same effect on her husband’s nephew.

I know as a matter of fact that Rashmi had once told all the children in her family `never to be caught drinking beer, to always stick with Thums-up’ and never even to hang out with children who might do drugs or indulge in some other anti-social activity. “We are Thackerays. So even if we have committed an offence that should be rated as two, people will make it out to be four and they will pin other people’s blame on to your shoulders.’’

Now, if Raj Thackeray is right, that’s exactly what may have happened to Nihar. But running away from the scene of crime somehow seems to compound the offence and, even if he is just a scared kid (though he is out of his teens and a young adult by now), each day that he evades the authorities adds to his guilt in the eyes of the law.

Thackeray has bailed out his sons before. I am sure he will bail out his grandson even now. But, I believe, he could have done without this second generation scandal in his family adding to his (already overflowing) plate, full of woes.

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