Amit Shah’s public threat to Uddhav Thackeray wrong at many levels

A Union Home Minister asking his party workers to “teach a lesson” to a former CM and Opposition leader violates every norm of a democracy where any citizen has the right to choose friends or allies

(PTI Photo- File)
(PTI Photo- File)

Sujata Anandan

There was so much wrong with Amit Shah's threat to Uddhav Thackeray.

In Mumbai, ostensibly for Ganpati darshan, but actually to assess the situation for the upcoming series of municipal polls in Maharashtra, Shah on Monday exhorted BJP workers to “teach a lesson” to Uddhav Thackeray.

Firstly, a Union Home Minister asking his party workers to “teach a lesson” to a former CM and an Opposition leader is fraught not just with the possibility of violence and possible endangerment of the life of the individual, it also violates every norm of a democracy where any citizen has the right to choose his friends or allies.

But Shah described Uddhav as a “traitor” to the BJP and said treachery could never be forgiven. Is that a message to all the ‘traitors’ belonging to other parties who have joined the BJP? And what does that make Eknath Shinde and his supporters, who have proved to be the greatest traitors of all times in the manner in which they betrayed Uddhav Thackeray?

While Amit Shah stopped short of naming Shinde in any context, the new Maharashtra CM has already been called a traitor by Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. However, in line with the new pacifism adopted by the Thackerays to reinvent the Shiv Sena in the new century, Uddhav described Shinde and his supporters as “rotten leaves” which suck the mother tree dry and then automatically fall off, leaving the tree looking bare. But that is not the end of the tree when a new season arrives, as fresh green leaves grow on the tree again and it once more blooms with flowers and fruits.

There was no threat of violence in that statement, but it rattled Shinde no end, particularly as Uddhav followed it up with saying that Shinde actually wants possession of the Thackeray name which he will never have, for you have to be born to it and it cannot be acquired by force.

With Shah's threat to Uddhav now though, there is the possibility of a clash between the two Shiv Sena groups on account of Shah's vocabulary – dhool chatana. It could be in the context of the municipal polls wherein Shah has exhorted his party to aim for 150 out of 227 seats in the BMC, but Shiv Sainiks interpret it differently.

“We are a party rooted to the ground. So how much more does Shah expect us to bite the dust?" wondered outgoing Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar.

Reactions from other Shiv Sena leaders, including Uddhav Thackeray, were sharper.

“It is obvious to everybody from Mumbai that we are not a party for rent,” said Uddhav while party MP Arvind Sawant, who had resigned from the Narendra Modi government to facilitate the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra said, “They (BJP and Shah) will soon learn who will show whom their place.”

Sena legislator Manisha Kayande took serious exception to Shah’s language, saying he spoke like a street thug rather than a Union Home Minister.

But it was Aaditya Thackeray who had the last word. “It is obvious to everybody from Delhi to Mumbai who creates traitors and who betrays whom. Instead of asking us to comment, you should ask Shinde and his supporters what they think of Shah's opinion on traitors and betrayal,” he remarked.

Shah had said everything can be forgiven except for treachery and betrayal of the party that had given you everything.

Perhaps there is a (not so) hidden message there for not just Shinde and his group but also every other political leader who has been betraying his party of late.

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