A tryst with destiny?

It has to be a significant moment in Indian history that, for the first time in the nearly five decades of the Shiv Sena’s existence, Bal Thackeray has been so publicly endorsed by the Congress as one of its own.

Of course, Pranab Mukherjee’s courtesy call on Thackeray was just to thank him for his support at the presidential election slated for next week. But he may not have been non-conversant with the fact that the Shiv Sena actually belongs to the Congress and, though much water might have flowed under the bridge between the party’s foundation in the 1960s to the second decade of the 21st century, it still remains a fact that the Congress and the Shiv Sena have been better and more comfortable allies than the Sena and the BJP and have together achieved more in bringing about a lasting change in the socio-political fabric of Maharashtra than the BJP ever did in alliance with Bal Thackeray.

This is a visit that Thackeray will cherish forever – whether or not he succeeds in influencing Mukherjee’s mind vis-a-vis returning Belgaum, a disputed territory in Karnataka, to Maharashtra (he recently called for `hanging’ the BJP government in that state) or even, if after becoming President, Mukherjee forgets to call Thackeray on his birthday as Pratibha Patil did not and Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani always failed to remember.

This is the second time that Thackeray is openly endorsing a UPA candidate for president and that is a measure of his conviction that neither he nor the BJP is coming to power at the next elections, so he needs to get the Congress on his side, any which way and as soon as possible. Thackeray has never done anything for anyone without a quid pro quo and now, as in 2007, his demand is primarily a single point one: that he and his party should be protected at all cost against Narayan Rane, who had split from the Sena seven years ago amid much acrimony and bad blood and hopes to become chief minister. Thackeray wants the Congress to promise they will never give Rane the top job in the state.

The Sena tiger fears that with the state in Rane’s hands, the latter will leave no stone unturned in demolishing his party. He is particularly worried about his son, Uddhav, who is rather a bit of a gentleman and might not be able to match Rane’s tactics measure for measure.

The Congress, I am told, has been only too happy to give him that assurance but this is clearly not the first (or second) time that they have done business together. The Sena’s entire history, in fact, is replete with instances of quid pro quo between Thackeray and the Congress – starting with the decimation of Communist party-led trade unions in the 1960s which the Congress had been unable to overcome and so used Sena goons to break their back. Thackeray was also, perhaps, the only leader of an opposition party who supported Mrs Indira Gandhi’s infamous Emergency in 1975 and was handsomely rewarded for that by Congress leaders in the state with nominations to various institutional and legislative bodies, thus giving the party a foothold in the democratic process that eventually led them to government in 1995, albeit in alliance with the BJP.

Left to Thackeray, he would prefer a “wholly-owned’’ Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra with a Congress government at the Centre. But he has to unfortunately keep up his alliance with the BJP to keep winning seats on the saffron ticket. For, while the Congress might do much for Thackeray, they will never concede such a “big’’ (read money-spinning) state like Maharashtra to any other party. But apart from that, for years now, they have been content to let the Shiv Sena win the Municipal elections in the cash-rich Bombay and neighbouring Thane corporations, adequately compensating that party for what they might have lost by being out of government in Maharashtra.

Barring a brief period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Congress itself was floundering over its policies with regard to minorities and rising saffronism in the country, I have always known the two parties to work in tandem to the advantage of each others’ interests. And I see that, with the BJP now itself rather directionless, they seem to be slipping back into their old arrangement and ways.

I believe the Sena, after its grand failure in government between 1995-1999, when it created more problems for itself and the state than it could handle, has come to terms with its inability to be a party of good governance. They are content with winning just the municipal corporations and staying relevant to the limited extent of keeping their heads above water so that they continue to carry a certain amount of nuisance value – in enough proportion to drive the kind of bargain with the ruling party as they are said to have done now by blocking Rane’s attempts to become chief minister of Maharashtra.

Thackeray, however, has never made any bones about his friends or enemies. It is the Congress which has always been squeamish about acknowledging their relationship with the Shiv Sena. So Mukherjee’s late Friday night visit to Matoshree, Thackeray’s residence, even if only framed in terms of a gracious movee to thank him for his support, has an underlying significance: today the Sena, in an existentialist crisis, needs the Congress more than the Congress had needed the Sena over the years. The Congress has always surreptitiously bailed the Sena out in its most difficult moments and revived the party each time it seemed to be on the brink of decimation. But it is now no longer pretending that, given its Gandhian origins, it has any qualms about teaming up with a party of goons and guns which is what the Sena has essentially been over at least the last three decades.

So, I look upon the Thackeray-Mukherjee meet as a watershed moment of sorts in Indian politics. Once again, together, the Sena and the Congress are all set to alter the socio-political fabric of the country. And, despite the inherent contradictions in their DNA, both will survive, with a lot of interdependence upon each other — even if that could be less overt than the Sena’s vote for Mukherjee in the presidential race next week. No revival might be on the cards for the Shiv Sena but it is the BJP which should now worry about its own future. For, clearly, these two old friends are now scripting a destiny where the BJP might find it is three too many in the electoral sweepstakes at the next Lok Sabha elections.

With Mukherjee’s welcome at Thackeray’s residence, both the Congress and the Shiv Sena seem to have truly come home. I guess the two parties were always destined to be back in each other’s arms, sooner or later!

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  • anil

    Wait till the election of President post finish and see how long the bonhomie last!


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_URSXATBEMZ7HUAB3OH36PLYWDM Ashok

    Where does Sharad Pawar fit into this romance ?


  • M Mallick

    Your words felt so beautiful I can only imagine what you must have felt.


  • shobhit

    his strategy is at fault, tearing away bills is unlawful and people wont support it


  • rajesh

    kejriwal did not deliver any value … he was all talk and no real results. just like anna.


  • Santosh

    Oh Mr. Sanghvi, is is because Mr. Kejriwal attacks your puppet master Ambani (Radia tapes anyone?!) that you disregard his protest? When was the last time one million signatures were signed by the people of Delhi with a completely hostile media opposing his every move at the behest of crony capitalists who run your organizations? Never is the answer you are looking for.

    PS: By the way Gandhi and Modi are alternatives?!!! You just killed whatever credibility you may have had. Please stick to reviewing restaurant on Brunch, That is what you are only good for.


    dhruv.jimmy@gmail.com Reply:

    you’re missing the point Santosh. Surely you’re not expecting a clean, clear, educated, decent, not greedy for money or fame, universally diplomatic politician from change? cause they don’t make those.

    choosing between those two could be better than having a weak, a half heart hero who doesn’t look at the whole picture. not saying those 2 are any good. but they’re better than the pack of wolves below them. most (not all) of the lower house is governed by hypocrites with narrow views and old rigid traditional attitudes on everything. we have business, religious and traditional people mostly(not all), with very few leadership skills.

    notice the problem with our ways is that we have thousands of things happening everyday, the more they happen, the more our focus keeps shifting to different issues. with no concentration (unlike rape) on 1 thing until it’s banished!


    Chetan Reply:

    lol – I so agree with this reply. .


  • smart

    Dhekte jaoo election main Arvind jee hi jitenge. Sachai ki raste main chalna muskil hota hai lekin akhir main jeet sachai ki hi hoti hai


  • dhruv.jimmy@gmail.com

    change 1 thing at a time. not the whole system overnight. “change the world, one thing at a time”.


  • mani

    Mr Vir, do read Outlook article:
    The Vir Sanghvi- Niira Radia Tapes

    Many of powerbrokers are missing ‘good old crony days’ or fearful of rough no-money futhre India.


  • http://twitter.com/KukuduKoo KukuduKoo

    How many of us have truly ‘heard’ what Arvind is saying? First read his book or at least this review – ‘The agony & ecstasy of Arvind Kejriwal’ at http://bookrecommendations.org/swaraj-by-arvind-kejriwal/


  • umesh

    why these pseudo journalists think they know best of everything , they dont pay their from their own pocket ,its middle class who is suffering the utilities bills are more than household grocery expense total …. Congress should be voted out


  • raju

    Ambani, Ambani, Ambani


  • Debu

    There is perhaps another reason which has not been carried in this piece. Probably citizens of the country expected Kejri to stand outside the political system and be its critic, holding a lamp to all the dark deeds that India’s politics accepts as routine. Instead, Kejri swallowed the bait thrown by the political parties: that his challenge was to prove that people were with him by winning elections. He formed Aam Admi Party with dreams of winning elections while this makes Kejri just as another politician with ambition in the eyes of the ordinary citizen: how can he. And if he is just another politician, how can he distance himself from the corruption that keeps the political system running?


  • Puneet

    That blogs reads more like a gossip without any substance and facts..


  • Raj

    Honestly speaking. Does it hold any good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! today.


  • Bangalore

    Last year we supported Anna and his team, but they have shown arrogance in accepting what they were getting from govt.Now middle class feel betrayed and puzzled.


  • Javed

    it is simple at this juncture India needs a PM like Modi. Who delivers prosperity to everyone who works hard irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex etc etc (what ever vote banks exist)

    Kejriwal hasnt done much – although a good man & capable individual. Maybe he is fit to be as an advisor in Modi’s central govt panel


    yogesh Reply:

    modi should assist kejriwal


  • http://twitter.com/khuranaabhisek abhishek khurana

    media is not covering it this time – don’t know for what reasons, they cover rahul gandhi vs narendra modi, itna to woh apne baare main sochte bhi nahi honge jitnaa media soch leta hai


  • Yoginder

    In India even media has been bought. As soon as the current foreign minister threatened to sue the media, they stopped giving news about Anna and Kejriwal.No media channel had the guts to further explore what was charged against the current foreign minister. Media didn’t have courage to stand behind their news . How can you expect to make changes in the society when the media is equally corrupt. We had seen some news regarding Zee TV officials. Media is also only after money. They are not practicing true journalism.


  • http://twitter.com/khuranaabhisek abhishek khurana

    reading your stuff make me think of – have keyboard, will type.
    Poor us we have to choose between worse and worst, bad to aap pehle likhte the


  • common man

    modi modi modi,gandhi gandhi gandhi ,kejriwal kejriwal kejriwal,i dont understand why are we highlighting this as problem , when there are bigger real problems in India which is affecting our countrymen like drought in vidarbha where my brothers are dying or in Punjab where my young brothers are losing there youth becoz of drugs or in Gujarat where if you dont earn money you are not human,or in north east where my countries young soldier is dying ,just because our stupid government is not showing concerns for our borders, In capital my sisters arent because safe becoz some people consider law as there nanny and about my middle class families one thing i know for sure is that last thing which concern there mind right now is election on who will win, because first thing they want is to win is there income and then anything else ,so stop bitching my fellow commenters ,becoz what veer sanghvi write is just read by people like us,who have nothing to do but just sit on a chair in front of a screen and think “aree have i paid my internet bill or should i take money from papa” so guys stop even looking vir sanghvi’s blog or what modi said today,or what arvind or gandhi said,and start commenting and highlighting real problems which efects my country ,your country,our country “INDIA”


  • R K Singh

    Oh Mr Sanghvi, you talked everything except the paid media. Almost one year back media decided not to cover him and still they are doing the same. Its just paid media who is not covering him. Come out and feel the heat of AK with public at any public function.
    Not allowing media to cover him is fake victory by other political parties in the proxy war but I am sure Ak has already won this. (election result is not authority to prove that but still after Delhi election I will wait for your blog.)


  • gandhibaba@gmail.com

    Mullah# ji ab to bak bak band karo, mummy se daddy ji ka naam to pucho


  • dheeraj

    Guys, pls think that after so many decades, India got some sort of stability with 2 poles of parties (BJP & Khangress) so Indians will never let other party(without any principles & planning) come into center-stage in just 1 year time only b’coz AAM aadmi party is 1 year baby without tried & tested unlike Khangress (124 yrs) & BJP (50 yrs) so any new party takes whopping 20 yrs to take the shape in any country with their credentials among the masses so ‘Khujliwal’ must know this fact and leave day dreaming….Infact any business take that much time to shape and produce some dividends.

    Indians will never let aam aadmi party to come on center stage as it will destruct Indian state much badly and also will make 3rd party system in center cutting Khangress & BJP badly and will destroy 2 party system in India and it will destroy Nation’s unity & stability badly from outside enemy country.

    As the India is developing in crucial stage to the 21st century fastly and in current scenario allowing 3rd party system in the center will create mass chaos from the point of view country’s economics & economically as tried & tested “BJP & Khangress” can take the challenge to raise country unlike aam aadmi party without any experience, principles & plans is a blunder to great our country politically & economically.

    So better “Khuliwal” go to hell but mother India must be saved.


    chetan Reply:

    who the hell are you- to decide that a 3rd oarty is not an option? And as if these 2 “businesses” arent looting the country now ..


  • jitendra

    AAP will sweep the elections !!


  • Chetan

    ohh you Sanghvi, you still haven’t washed hands off paid news .. if Rahul Gandhi is an alternative you should hang your head in shame… the thought that that confused heir with no brains can be our next PM raises my hair .. . people like you who have sold there souls for money . .. .How much of it do you really need to sustain a living -a life ??
    Everyone can see that and you know that too that the pol-khol on Mukesh Ambani was the reason Media blocked Arvind Kejriwal, what else explains the fact that immediately after his press conference- every media outlet suddenly stopped showing content from Kejriwal .. IT IS DOWN TO ZERO COVERAGE

    And still I remain an idealist- AAP will win in Delhi and that will inspire an entire generation of Indians to vote for AAP

    You just wait and watch!





  • Indian

    The nation stands solidly behind Kejriwal, Anna and all those wanting to breathe freely without having to suffer because of corruption, abnormal prices, worst law and order situations. This article written looks politically motivated. Let all Indians support actions aimed at relieving the people of India b y anyone who does so.



    Let us wait and watch


  • AC (Delhi)

    I’m sorry to say that although I respect Arvind Kejrival & the issues he raises…I do not agree with his ways…the only thing he is achieving here is spoiling his health big time….he says we should not pay the bills, then they will cut our electricity, charge extra for late payments, probably lead to court cases etc…we have a family, young children…are we supposed to go without electricity for days…this is no way…he should work at readying his party for the CM elections in Delhi…..I would vote for him & I am sure a lot of others who are sick of Shiela Dixit…but this is no way…Talk to the people in Delhi, tell us how you will solve our problems…then we will vote for you.


  • normal sochne wala

    Mr.Sanghavi..u missed the entire point of this movement..and yes Middle class is watching and they will trigger the ballet on D-day ..it is the underclass(it is your term and it is a bad term)…who needs to be aware about their rights coz Big Fish can buy their vite by distributing kambal and daru..so if u can’t support any good cause…please don’t put your head in it..and also ..Media ..what do u mean by thsi term? An hour of Sanjay Dutt Debate -this is called media or Sunny Leone on your papers front page-is this media? Understand the points and then criticize middle class….middle class is their with Arvind..yes they can’t affoed to leave luxury..so keep watching and note down my comments somewhere..you will understand this in November


  • Mayank

    this time who told you to write this one and how much you make by selling your soul and pen


  • Drinkwithme

    U may be rite but he did what he had to at that point in time. Kiran and Anna for some unknown reason didn’t support him. So he needed to communicate with the public abt his differences with his own team leads who backstabbed him. And abt the industrialists and media, I’ve not heard of it. But if its true, then what’s wrong??? He still did the rite thg standing upto his principles. Unfortunately in any country, the media is as corrupted as the politicians. Most of the media houses are either funded by politicians or bought over. In this scenario it’s a lost battle. But still, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of social media (Facebook, twitter) who don’t filter out anything and provide platforms for free speech. Ppl shud use them effectively in countries like India to form huge gatherings and support ppl like Arvind. Honestly that’s all Arvind can hope for. I feel so sorry for him. Ppl do hv priorities but at least they shud come out and show the support in the open in large numbers. Signing petitions like they did in this case may not serve any purpose. End of the day they’re sheep and will continue to pay their bills and move on with their lives.


  • achy

    So Mr. Sanghvi now wants middle class to ditch AAP and Arvind Kejriwal, although he has cloaked it as if middle class has already ditched them. But unlike you, Mr Sanghvi, Middle class is not on payroll of Ambani or Nira Radia. So, it has no such compulsion. Middle class is the most educated ( yes, far better then you, Mr Sanghvi) and sees through your games. That is one of the reason it was not enthused by politics as it knew that there was no real choice. But with advent of AAP, it is excited and for the first time sees a clear, stark choice. A choice filled with possibilities rather then fait accompli of Cong-BJP.

    Next time, try harder.


  • Anonymous

    I stopped supporting Anna, Kejriwal etc. when they started talking secularism like Congress. Both have no problems hobnobbing with Mullahs and believe me they will support congress in future.

    So no support from people who want congress out.


  • Prem Rou

    Regarding fast in April 2013,it is disheartening to read such a article from seasoned journalist. Are you no longer in inner circle of MMS ?

    (1)Please check the news of immediate preceeding April 2011 fast where “MMS is trying to re-impose EMERGENCY ” was a recurrent theme.

    (2)Please check essays/articles by Sri Khare ex-media-advisor of MMS most probably in The Hindu, hinting the turf war between Pranab Da and MMS regarding PM post. Both believe to have first right over PM post.

    (3)Check the credentials of back room boys organising this show.

    (4)Read the Caravan report to understand as how this fast was brought to national stage by Arnab after a few calls from rigth source.

    (5)Also be informed that ex-PM Sri Gujral was indebted to MMS for his help in last election. Sri Gujral is connected to Times group through maariage. Another leading light Sri Sri jee association with Times group is like that of sugar with milk.

    The REAL TRUTH is that it was a well orchestrated drama [ see movie MAIN AZAAAD HOON featuring Amitabh and Shabana to understand what drama or HERO HIRALAL if you prefer lighter stuff].

    The aim was to introduce DICTATORSHIP through backdoor heavily backed by communist last citadel NAC. It was the anti-Pranab faction of Congress who were actively participating as back room boys in organsising the drama.

    The move back fired as BJP refused to hand over tag of graft fighter to Kejriwal.The general mood in public was anti-congress and not anti-graft. The BJP play-acted but refused to fall in the trap organised by NAC. RSS overt support to known anti-indian Bhusan-duo was ” AAPka JOOTA AAPke sar per ”

    The fight back by Pranab and ensuring that DICTATORSHIP cannot make back room entry. India is indebted to Pranab and his supporter for this fight back

    Mr Anna lost his zeal to fast , once the promised President post , was captured by Pranab.

    Mr Kejriwal lost his favour with Congress NAC , as he fail to make stage gor entry of Rahul G as “GAME CHANGER “.


    I Rest my case.