Raj Thackeray’s survival instincts are well in place

For a long time I had been stating that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray would never join hands with Narendra Modi because in that move lay his destruction. I was trolled furiously by the saffron brigade who called me all sorts of names but now finally Raj has put the stamp on speculation by journalists for months – and I guess just the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in New Delhi has not a little to do with it.

Of course, the AAP phenomenon brings renewed hope to Raj that charting his own course through electoral politics will bring him better dividends than a three way tie up with the Shiv Sena and the BJP. But even if AAP had not blazed into being, Raj would have spurned Modi’s concerted efforts in this direction over the past several months.

His decision now puts a spoke in Modi’s wheel who had hoped to win at least 30-40 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra – the second largest contingent after Uttar Pradesh’s 80 parliamentary seats. Without those numbers coming close to te 200 mark in the Lok Sabha it would be an impossible dream but obviously Raj has plans of his wn.

I believe Modi’s popularity is also the reason for his rejection by Raj Thackeray – he does not want his personality and hs party subsumed by Modi’s overwhelming one. Raj wishes to eventually gain full control of the Shiv Sena whose leader, his estranged coiusin Uddhav is ill and unable to pull along with many of the leaders loyal to his father Bal Thackeray and Raj would clearly prefer to wait it out for the Sena to crumble under the weight of its own dissensions and contradictions.

Modi in any case could never have won this particular game for right frm the start even Uddhav Thackeray had made his displeasure at the idea of roping in Raj into the alliance quite clear, He had refused to part with seats from his quota and told the BJP in no uncertain terms that if they wanted his cousin on board they would have to give him seats from their own quota. That was unacceptable to the BJP, given they need every last seat to get to the majority mark. So it was a doomed alliance right from the start.

But this is one of the rare occasions when I agree completely withj Raj Thackeray and not just for the fact that he has a right to his own survival, so why should he give in to the persuasion of others who care only about themselves. Raj is absolutely right when he says Modi has not grown beyond regional chieftain – what is the use of evoking dubious records of Gujarat’s indices all the tine when he should actually be talking about the whole nation?

Actually in this regard Modi should have taken lessons from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, when she first came to Maharashtra for campaigning – in Nandurbar in 1998 – she not only evoked Chhatapati Shivaji Maharaj (even if at the time she could not pronounce his name correctly) but also a local hero, a freedom fighter from the region who none of us had ever heard of, who gave his life fighting the British and who the tribals held in great esteem.

Even Sharad Pawar, who was then the leader of the undivided Congress, was stunned at the response she got not just in the tribal areas of Maharashtra but all across the state – the Congress ended uo with 42 of the 48 seats (four seats went to its Republican allies), a record that has not been bettered by any one, including the Congress, after that.

Modi, however, remains an essentially Gujarat leader and I wonder why he has not been advised about the traditional antipathy between Gujaratis and Maharashtrians at least in Bombay – trucking in people from neighbouring Gujarat, evoking Gujarati examples clearly did not endear him to at least Raj Thackeray.

But I am also convinced that in this regard the Congress has bested Modi – the party too has been wooing Raj over the months and it was a toss up as to who would be able to pull off a better deal with the MNS president. Raj obviously knows which side his bread is buttered for the AAP euphoria has clearly cut into the obsession with Modi and I believe the BJP knows that only too well.

They should have listened to the old fox, their own patriarch L K Advani. He had not wanted Modi to be anointed before January. I recently had one Congressman confessing to me, “If they had indeed listned to Advani we would have been dead. We would never have been able to counter Modi but he has given us enough time and made enough mistakes for us to level the playing field.’’

That is why, I guess, our elders tell us to listen closely to; well, our elders. But the BJP has too many younger men in a hurry. And Raj, of course, is still younger. He can afford to wait.

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  • pankaj#1

    Give Modi mandate and he will deliever wonderful results. Or, you will rather travel with Lalus, Paswan and Mulayams. Famous for, hum sarkar hain, in the style of Akbar.


  • Rashida Khan

    Can’t wage reason against a country that is not capable of reasoning. Twenty years after Mumbai blasts with not a single Pakistani implicated being extradited for trial to India, military adventurism, attacks on Indian embassies in Afghanistan,etc. at what point does India keep avoiding drawing a land in the sand? Even its closest ally, the US does not trust Pakistan’s civilian government, why should India?

    Speak softly and carry a big stick– said Roosevelt, who never saw it fit to negotiate with Hitler, Hirohito, or Mussolini, even at a time when US was an unproven military power and no match to axis forces. While Chamberlain retired in ignominy after his “Peace in our time” tango with Hitler, Churchill and Roosevelt fought fire with fire to bring a decisive end to the third Reich.

    Pakistan has shown it is not a mature country. It has a radicalized army that dictates to the PM. After the decisive defeat of 1971, Pakistan became much more pliant to reason; at least until Zia offed Bhutto.Ever since then, Pak has gone back to being a tempestuous toddler among nations. It is time to administer some stiff medicine instead of giving more cookies to the toddler.


    Aniruddh Patankar Reply:

    “Speak softly but carry a big stick” – 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

    Fought the Axis Powers in World War II – 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    Get it right.


  • Sohail

    Whatever the exigencies of the coming Indian elections, the fact remains that pakistan is in a state of utter chaos and vulnerable to its deep state and their jihadi assets. Things have come to such a pass that their Interior minister has stated that pakistan is fighting for its survival – and he is quite right.
    All this, ofcourse, poses problems for India too in that the pakistani deep state and its jihadi assets finding some relief in Afghanistan will turn their venom at India, not least to keep themselves relevant in pakistan.
    In such a scenario , peace talks with a civilian government that does not have control over its foreign policy would indeed be futile for India. A priori pakistan’s actions to eliminate its terrorists and those who nurture them must be the starting point of any Indian policy prescription that seeks to improve relations. Meanwhile, the means to give a lethal response to any misadventures, formal or informal, by pakistan and its `non state actors’ must be primed for swift delivery.


    pankaj#1 Reply:

    Very intelligent post. In agreement with you.


  • Sid

    Rage without Reason – Five soldiers brazenly killed and the writer wants Reason. If it were his brothers or relatives then would his reaction be the same? Living in Fool’s paradise!


  • D. Kumar

    Mr. Sharma,

    It seems that your writing and reasoning skills are that of 8 std student and you can not even write a decent blog.

    What about hiring a ghost writer?



  • Hariharan

    A royal ignore to talks with pakistan for a decade at least meanwhile giving the army at ground zero the authority to act is the most viable and the best option
    We need firmness not pussyfooting at Delhi


  • JB


    Is it rage without reason? We are discussing a country that has checkmated the Soviet Union and even the mighty USA. Just imagine a country having the mental strength to hide Osama from the US right in its capital and when the cat is out claiming total ignorance and creating a situation where the US knowing well the truth helplessly accepts the official position, while at the same time milking the US to wage war against terrorism. India is no match for Pak policy makers. And there lies the cause for the anger: that there is no answer to such duplicity. Talk to that country to hearts content for sake of talking, because the Almighty has given us tongues. But never talk to them with any expectation!


  • Rohit

    Yes, we will use reason – but only after the bloodshedding stops. It is utter foolishness to uphold reason when the army of the other party is freely indulging in killing our soldiers. My only advice to the author is to shut-up if he cannot show even a little bit of sympathy for the soldiers and BSF personnel whose hands are tied down and are falling prey to the fire from Pak.


  • PDas

    Only one country is infiltrating borders. That country isn’t ours. Only one country’s government is trying to excuse the transgressions from across the border. That country isn’t theirs. Only one country’s media is talking of a peace when that peace is constantly shattered by another country’s transgressions. That country isn’t theirs. That’s the problem, author.


  • Guest

    Only one country is infiltrating borders. That country isn’t ours. Only one country’s government is trying to excuse the transgressions from across the border. That country isn’t theirs. Only one country’s news channels are trying to force a baseless peace when that peace is constantly shattered by another country’s transgressions. That country isn’t theirs. That’s the problem, author.


  • Guest

    Only one country is infiltrating borders. That country isn’t ours. Only one country’s government is trying to excuse the transgressions from across the border. That country isn’t theirs. Only one country’s news channels are trying to force a baseless peace when that peace is constantly shattered by another’s transgressions. That country isn’t theirs. That’s the problem, author.


  • prashant saxena

    There is no reasoning with someone who kills your soldiers. If Pakistan killed your son on Indian soil, when he was doing his job, would you want some action to be taken? Pakistan is killing Indian soldiers. It is the duty of a nation to stand behind it’s troops and go to war if they are killed. If the nation doesn’t do it’s duty, the troops will also stop doing their duty.


  • Anangsen

    “bold, imaginative and compassionate.”

    Only when it comes to the people of India, not for a global sponsor of terror!

    I strongly disagree with Karan Singh’s drive because we have to be bold, decisive, and formidable! Time for hijra-style pussilanimity is over. We do not need the ‘love’ of pakis, we must command their RESPECT! Respect for strength, for CONSEQUENCES!


  • Jyotisman Dasgupta

    I totaly agree with Vinod. Jingoism is at a all time high and lot of that is media creation. Whenever Pakistan troops kill our soldiers at the border, these sentiments are stoked by the media, particularly Times Now. They urge the government to act, not wait for the next incident to take place. For that brief period of debate and discussion, nationalistic sentiments are aroused and painful memories of Kalra’s beheading or Sarabjit’s torture and eventual dealth brought to light. It is true we need to learn our lessons. But what can be a befitting reply to a nuclear country which is waging a war in its own turf against home grown militancy?. While i do agree that Pakistan is not doing enough to punish the master mind criminals of 26/11, there is no other way other than peaceful dialogue to resolve bilateral issues with any country. Any sane minded individual will realize that peace is far better option than to stop all talks till everything gets back to normal. Probably that is a perfect world that will never happen. There is a big community in Pakistan that is eager to establish good relations with India. However such voices get drowned in the jingoism and hysteria that we hear on both sides of the border. There is a hypocrisy that we all see in the way Pakistan establishment works. Keeping Kashmir issue alive and fomenting trouble across the border is inherent to its survival. However for how long?


    pankaj#1 Reply:

    We will interact.
    But for the present, Ye kahani fir kabhi.


  • bala srinivasan

    For 66 years INDIA has restrained its rage,swallowed its anger for what some more?enough is enough Pakistan is not equal partner&will never be inspite of its nuclear threat.Time to draw the line in the sand.They want an excuse to go down,may be time we gave them that.


  • Vamshi

    How long more do you want to wait before we strike back. Self defense is not jingoism.


  • Guest

    The few sensible voices are in print. The channels are all for scrambling the fighters.


  • Haris Chaudhry

    As a Pakistani, I strongly believe that our establishment is doing it all over again in a mad rush to snatch the lead from Nawaz Sharif and set the tone of Indo-Pak bilateral relations. Only Nawaz Sharif’s government has the potential, capability, mandate and support to “bell the cat” however the headstrong cat wants to stay a few paces ahead of the pack ! As much as I support India’s disbelief and rage, this very ‘reaction to teach Pakistan a lesson” is exactly what the khakis (establishment) are after in Pakistan ! They understand the power of loud-media and the momentum of hysteria that could build-off following inaction over Kargil and Mumbia blast by Pakistan !
    The logical thing is to ‘teach Pakistan a thing or two by disengaging’. The illogical but more tactful approach is to bite the tongue and just give an opprortunity for civilian Pak government to set the negotiating agenda !

    Let me assure you (having spoken to a number of high ranking stalwarts within Pak’s ruling party) that there is utmost angst and frustration by this pre-emptive measure and that the ruling party is hellbent and very focussed to take the lead back (even risking a severe blow back domestically through right wing media) and set the tone for bilateral relations !

    Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N) has right wing elements but those are very few and far between especially when it comes to stopping terror from our soil, normalising trade and enhancing people to people contact !

    I urge Indians to refuse to let themselves in being ‘part of the game’ being played ! Please be patient if you can ! The momentum is gradually shifting and it will not be long before the feathers are clipped by an assertive civilian dispensation in Pak.



    pankaj#1 Reply:

    I am so very happy to read your post. Yes, I agree with what you have been saying. Pakistanis are after all south asians, our blood. They have gone to a different direction but if they get the insight and follow right path, we can unite. We have no problem with Islam, minus its one upmanship and holier than thou attitude. Certain perspectives have to be corrected before Pakistan can join civilized world. I am hopeful for that day, but Hafeez Saeed and his ilk has to be destroyed in total, before we reach there.


    Salman Chengazhi Reply:

    Dear Haris,

    You do have a point. Certainly our civilian setup and especially PML (N) is rather young to tackle our khaki gernaills. Infact it has always been a difficult and challenging task whenever we would like to assert a political influence over army. Always a bargaining situation for which we need to have military’s consent to go ahead and accomplish even a civilian objective. But again we (the common citizens of Pakistan) can pray and play a positive role in building infrastructure of the country that has much to achieve and uplift life of terror struck citizens.

    What and where I differ with you is the military’s role for the past few years as engaged with homegrown war and involved in full time military operations on the western front. Separatist movements in Baluchistan and in FATA regions of the country why would you believe that military would like to open a new front on its eastern side and engage in confrontation with India? What again keeps me guessing is the statement made by Indian Defense minister A.K Antony disbelieving that Pak is behind recent escalations/violations between India and Pakistan. That was made ’shut up’ by strong opposition (BJP) that made Antony to change his stance. IMO despite our military’s India centric focus we cannot let go the possibility of tensions originating from Indian side especially when elections are around the corner. This has worked where civilians will always look the other side to act as massiha and save the ailing conditions and sentiments of ordinary citizens. I believe this is politically motivated by BJP to gain vote bank and political sympathies in the hearts and minds of general masses.



  • Ashish

    Actually Indo -pak relation is the issue of great failure. since 1947 and before
    we never discussed that could Hindu or Muslim stay with each together or not, if not then what’s the permanent solution or if yes then make the relation more better, we have to think and realized that partition ……. always create the line of control.


  • Anonymous

    wE SHOULD cut off everything with pakistan; let them go their way. Fortify our borders; kill as many of their border force without triggering a war..no talks as long as they do not have a single authority in control


  • Aniruddh Patankar

    Unfortunately, for all his fulminations, Raj Thackeray simply lacks the integrity of character to ever become a serious player like Arvind Kejriwal. Before Kejriwal even came on the scene, Thackeray had found a juicy issue to project himself before the voters as their friend and saviour: the criminal extortion called “Road Toll”. Now, this has as much resonance in Mumbai as water and electricity in Delhi. What happened? Instead of demanding an high-powered, independent audit, questioning the “return on investment” considered appropriate, etc. the MNS posted some goons at a few toll plazas to intimidate and get into scuffles with the toll officials but scooted out when the toll-wallahs brought in their own goons (who are still around, by the way) Then some semi-retired chaps could be seen seated under a shamiana, presumably counting the vehicles!! If the data was supposed to be extrapolated to prove that the cost of construction of the roads / flyovers / bridges had been recovered; even a financial novice would have shot out any such argument. Anyway, even this fizzled out in no time. The word on the street is the Nawab of Baramati “purchased” Raj’s acquiescence to the continued daily looting of citizens driving to work on shoddy, pot-holed roads.

    Issue after issue, Raj has never lived upto the potential and legacy left him by his uncle. If he expects Sainiks who are disillusioned by Uddhav to flock to him, he is sadly mistaken; they’d rather go to AAP as and when it sets up shop in Maharashtra.