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VIEW POINT: Balasaheb Thackeray : A paradox
By B.L. Saraf
Some called him fascist others idolised him as a nationalist to the core and savoir of Maratha culture and economic interests of the Mumbaikars. However, none in the country could afford ignore Balasaheb Thackeray – popularly Known as Bal Thackeray. Such has been the persona of the man – wrapped in enigma, that there will always be two classes of people moved either by hatred or adulation for him. Perhaps in contemporary political history, no other leader has evoked as much reaction in his death as Bal Thackeray did when he was alive. Hundreds of thousands hated him but millions mourned his death and, in tears, followed his mortal remains to the cremation ground. For most grief was genuine and real where as some could be there driven by ingrained custom which we in India follow to grieve death of a known or the unknown. Thackeray was, indeed, a paradoxical man.

Bal Thackeray faced charges of communalism and hate mongering. He was derided as divisive and a regional chauvinist. His brand of politics was frowned upon. Those who levelled these charges against him are entitled to their view. So are the others who hold him in high esteem. It is not our purpose here to prove persons wrong or right in their respective perceptions of the man. Suffice it to say, Balasaheb was an astute practitioner of mundane politics and utilised all available means to promote it. There is nothing unusual about it. Politics and politicians in India, take birth every day in various forms and shapes through different ways. One day caste medium is utilised and the other day communal means are employed for the recreation. Ideology also comes handy. All depending on vote and some not so honourable calculations. By no means it is for promoting amity and good will among the communities. Politics has one character. It is to generate hate and then preach it to the hilt. Hate may be against a class, a caste, a religion, a particular view point or, a region. It is every politician’s forte to create divisions - real or emotional. Some do it crudely in a brazen manner and some do it with great deal of finesse. Bal Thackeray, undoubtedly, belonged to the first category and so became a known object of “condemnation”. Politicians doing it in a subtle way pass on “honourably”. No wonder, Henry Brooks Adams describes, “ Politics as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” Hence if some thought Bal Thackeray was a practitioner of hate he may be seen as ascribing to the Adam’s theory, as, indeed, politicians of other hue would be doing.

In Jammu & Kashmir Bal Thackeray will always be remembered, by a large section of the populace, for his role in ameliorating the pitiable condition of the migrants and coming to the help of those non- residents who put their lives in the firing line to defend the nation’s integrity when it was challenged most. Though, some may not have viewed him favourably. In 1990, lakhs of people were forced to leave Kashmir. Though bulk of them were Pandits, Muslims and Sikhs also formed a good part of the displaced persons. Together, they were registered as migrants by the State government. Later on some from Doda district were also forced to join the unfortunate category. The political and security situation was such as to make the migrant community face cross roads. One path led to despair and hopelessness. The other to total extinction. Such was the darkness of the period that the displaced persons thought even God has forsaken them. At that juncture, Bal Thackeray showed them the third path --- a path of life and hope. Irrespective of the caste, region and religion, he rescued the displaced community from the abyss it had fallen into. He made his government in Maharashtra create an administrative regime which ensured hassle free and highly affordable admissions, to its various engineering and other professional institutions, of wards of the migrants of J&K and those members of All India Services, as also the men in Armed forces --including the paramilitary forces - who were fighting armed militancy in the State. The fruits of this policy have truly accrued, in plenty, to the displacement community, as they have reached the other intended groups. It has given a big fillip to their human resources development and the consequent economic prosperity. Thanks to this gesture, the community’s young have found job placements all over the globe, contributing to the foreign exchange reserves of the country besides taking due care of their loved ones.

Some may not like grieving for Thackeray. They have a choice. But then, his political views apart, hundreds of thousands in J & K do genuinely feel obligated to mourn his demise and join the obsequies. They too have a choice. That is the way they can repay the debt their progeny owes to Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray. May his soul rest in peace!

(The author is Former Pr, District & Sessions Judge)
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News Updated at : Monday, December 3, 2012
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