Two big political events that took place in Maharashtra in the past one week attracted national attention. One was former president of India Pranab Mukherjee delivering a speech at an important Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) function and the other was BJP national President Amit Shah’s much publicised visit to Mumbai and his meetings with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and various celebrities.
Pranab Mukherjee’s speech at RSS headquarters turned out to be as expected, a short lived sensation, because he stuck to his Congressman’s ideology and did not deviate in his speech from the secular and plural stand that the Congress has supported. However, Amit Shah’s visit to Mumbai became a bigger story because even after a two hour discussion between him and Uddhav Thackeray taking place on Wednesday, speculation still continues about what exactly has been decided between the alliance partners during their chat.
Amit Shah, as part of his visit to Mumbai, had courtesy meetings with Madhuri Dixit and Ratan Tata. One celebrity considered to be close to Late Balasaheb Thackeray and a business captain known for the support he extended in Nashik city to Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. Obviously the BJP showed intentions of extending their reach in the sphere of Bollywood, a ‘constituency,’ which is known to be that of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray. The Sena must feel very uncomfortable with this and so would MNS chief Raj Thackeray!
Raj Thackeray drew a cartoon mocking Amit Shah and portraying him as a leader who is glamour-struck. The cartoon went super viral and may have been by now seen by crores of people. Raj Thackeray has been mocking Amit Shah in various cartoons but this time what Shah achieved during his Mumbai visit has seriously hurt the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena. Shah’s meetings with film celebrities has really hurt both these parties, which thrive among other things on Bollywood’s support.
Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray always had very cordial relations with most of the Bollywood celebrities and the party was always proud about how various film superstars like Amitabh Bachchan or Nana Patekar visited Thackeray residence. The Sena thrived in certain pockets of Mumbai on this support that they enjoyed from Bollywood.
Raj Thackeray too has been very close to many Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Lata Mangeshkar for decades. The Sena and MNS think that Hindi as well as Marathi film industry is somewhat their constituency. Now competition from powerful BJP national president to take over this ‘constituency’ has really hurt both Shiv Sena and the MNS. Both parties feel that the BJP is aggressively encroaching on their space. It now remains to be seen whether this tug of war to take over the tinsel world is won by the BJP or not.