Exclusionist Raj Thackeray's All-inclusive Growth

Raj’s success is appealing. Avalanche of reactions have followed congratulating Thackeray ever since his men heckled Azami. Contrary to anticipation, media websites and talk shows are flooded with comments patting Raj while criticizing Azami.

By now, we have seen Raj’s chauvinism is becoming acute every day and so is the rancor among maharashtrians for outsiders. The initial feeling among marathis of being economically subalterns drove them closer to MNS. But as the party flexed its performance in the polls, beat up few bhaiyyas, that feeling was subsided and eventually replaced with a sense of dominance that of late has marathis gloating.

Two years ago when Raj first raked up son-of-the-soil issue, pundits downplayed it saying, he won’t get any support in the form of votes. A pet argument put forward that time was Maharashtra and Mumbai has changed drastically ever since fellow Marathis benefited maximum after liberalism to which migration was an indispensable part. Two years down the line, Raj has proved the pundits wrong. He is no more just an entity made out of media frenzy.

Raj’s success has come at a time when on national scene, politics of exclusion has become ineffective. For the MNS itself, its agenda although may have been exclusionist, but it more seem all-inclusive for marathis and their growth. This is much on the lines of sena, that brought smaller marathi factions and castes under one roof to become one strong force.

In his recently circulated three-page letter to all newly elected 288 MLAs of Maharashtra too, Raj shrewdly wove some details with his message and presented him as sole guardian of Marathi. His exhort was impressive and effective to marathis having loyalties to various parties.

Besides his charisma, contributing in Raj’s success is vernacular press, which provided him enough space to cash on the readership and Congress that tacitly supported his activities for political gains. Shiv Sena, the biggest looser, is still counting decibels of reverberation that generated from the slap in the face of Azami.

Raj’s appeal proves more effective because to counter Raj, national media plays nationalist card and often rakes up contribution of non-marathis in building Mumbai. The more such stories are played, the more it hurt marathis. Raj exploits that insecurity and reaches masses through vernacular press, which in return provides the leader better display for readership gains. This has a straight resemblance with Narendra Modi’s emergence in Gujrat. Post-Godhra riots, national media attacked Modi scathingly. The leader however turned that criticism as an attack against Gujrati pride to which regional media came to rescue.

So, when we saw Modi could not be clicked outside Gujrat, there is stronger possibility that Raj will be irrelevant elsewhere even if he opts all-inclusive agenda.