- Statement Issued by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)
On November 18, 2012, Mr Bal Keshav Thackeray, the founder and leader of Shiv Sena was cremated with full state honours in Mumbai. State Honour in death is meant to pay homage to someone whose work in life contributed to the values espoused by the state. Why did a liberal democratic state proclaiming Gandhi to be ‘Father of the Nation’ give such an honour to a self declared admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nathu Ram Godse? The Constitution of India guarantees freedom and liberty to every citizen, irrespective of religion, caste, gender, place of birth or language. Against this, for nearly 46 years the politics of Mr Thackeray and Shiv Sena were based on selectively targeting communities, openly spreading hatred and perpetrating violence against them. What Shiv Sena calls Thokshahi, its method of doing politics, is brutal use of group muscle power, justified in the name of majority, against vulnerable minorities. Shiv Sena started its political journey with attacking Tamil speaking inhabitants of Bombay in the late sixties. It burnt down their restaurants, because, it argued Tamils were taking jobs away from Marathis. In early seventies it brutally attacked Dalit Panthers, the group of radical anti-castiest dalits who had risen against opportunism of mainstream dalit parties. It was also accused of the murder of Dalit Panther leader Bhagwat Jadhav. With the support of big business and police it attacked left trade unions of Mumbai, and to spread its terror killed the popular trade unionist and sitting CPI MLA Krishna Desai. Mr Thackeray was one of the few Hindutva leader who publicly gloated over the destruction of Babri Mosque in 1992. The pogrom of Muslims in Mumbai during the 1992-93 riots was planned and executed by Shiv Sena. Lately, it and its progeny, the MNS, have started attacking Hindi speaking migrants in Mumbai. It has burnt their taxis and shops. Along with the use of group violence, Mr Thackeray perfected the art of protection money racket, a rank criminality that partially explains the phenomenal growth in the personal wealth of top Shiv Sena leadership.