Raj Thackeray: Making history with geography

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2008 02:57 hrs

The founder of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Raj Thackeray (born June 14, 1968) is the nephew of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. Raj is indebted to his uncle not only for his political style, but also for being his mentor as a cartoonist. And the similarities do not end there, for he too harbours a fascination for the German dictator Adolf Hitler, like his uncle. However, Raj has managed to gain instant political mileage out of his tirade against the north Indians in Maharashtra and allegation of negligence of Maharashtra by Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan.

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Raj's plunge into politics happened under the auspices of the Shiv Sena. However, his ambitions were thwarted as Uddhav Thackeray, Bal Thackeray's son and Raj's cousin, began to sideline him in every which way. A thoroughly disgruntled Raj parted ways with the Shiv Sena. He resigned from the party in December 2005, after blaming Uddhav and his followers of ruining the Sena. Efforts by the ageing Bal Thackeray to effect a reconciliation failed and soon Raj announced his plans to form a new political party. He declared his lofty ambition to be the chief minister of Maharashtra one day.

True to his words, Raj initiated efforts in earnest, which began with his touring the length and breadth of Maharashtra, in an attempt to get to know the common man and the issues that he faced.

His new political party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, came into being on March 9, 2006. The young Turk had arrived. He had a clear strategy in mind, which would help popularise his cause among the youth of Maharashtra - he would target north Indian people living in Maharashtra who “cause unemployment among Marathi youths.”

Apparently, he was inspired the movements organised by his uncle Bal Thackeray against south Indians in the 60s. And now he has managed to kick up a storm when he voiced his opinion that people from north India are encroaching and grabbing job opportunities in the state meant for Marathi people.

The upcoming Assembly elections seem to have influenced his tirade in no small measure too. So much so that he did not even spare Amitabh Bachchan, accusing the superstar of neglecting Maharashtra in favour of Uttar Pradesh, the latter's home state. A few words of ire and Raj has definitely managed to sow a wind. But will he reap a whirlwind in turn? The nation, and more importantly, Mumbai waits and watches.

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