MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who in the past had often spewed venom against the migrant population in Mumbai has suddenly found himself being featured in the Liberals’ list of blue-eyed boys and is being hailed as ‘fact-checker’ by them for taking on the might of the BJP and apparently debunking their purported Social Media lies.
Many liberals whose anti-Modi tendencies have been quite evident from their conduct have praised Raj Thackeray for confronting BJP and its Social Media IT cell for alleged propagation of fake news and rumours. Having been profoundly disappointed by the Congress ineptitude, Liberals seemed to have co-opted Raj Thackeray to take on the might of the Modi juggernaut and somehow dent his prospects in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
Raj Thackarey seems to have turned into the physical manifestation of @AltNews.
Fact-checking BJP Live. On stage.
Designed as a political rally!
— meghnad (@Memeghnad) April 24, 2019
@RajThackeray hits a sixer once again in his South Mumbai meeting. Presents a family on stage wrongly used in Modi’s advertisement. Public claps and cheers thunderously. I have not seen a political leader till now who exposes Modi so bluntly!
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) April 23, 2019
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) April 24, 2019
However, it is notable to mention that those who nurse anti-Modi hatred have overlooked the fact that the account that shared the photoshopped image which was supposedly debunked by Raj Thackeray in his meeting was not an official or verified page and fact-checking of content on unverified or fan page account is a superfluous activity and not a ‘fact-check’. Modi or BJP can’t be blamed for photoshopping done by random people online.
Even those who are accused of molestation have extended their support to Raj Thackeray and are actively promoting him to mount a credible opposition in Maharashtra which is in its current state is disoriented and rapidly disintegrating.
For the web news portal, HW News Network, prominent journalist Shri. Vinod Dua interviews Raj Thackeray.
Here is the YouTube link. Do watch it.https://t.co/GOXwkFKnJu
— Raj Thackeray (@RajThackeray) April 23, 2019
With just 1 seat in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, some of the journalists have even elevated MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s stature to that of being the main opposition voice in Maharashtra. It is pertinent to note that MNS has just 1 legislator in the Vidhan Sabha.
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) April 24, 2019
However, Raj Thackeray’s fact-checking skills are not at par with Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s skill of lying through his teeth. Recently, in an interview with TV9, Raj Thackeray played a doctored video claiming that PM Modi asked the little girl to say “Rahul Gandhi Pappu hai”. When pointed out by the interviewer that the video is manipulated with dubbed voice and that the original video doesn’t contain such comments, Raj Thackeray got angry and asserted that this is the original video and rubbished the assertions made by the reporter.
ह्या राजू पेंटर ने कितीची सुपारी घेतलीय हे एकदा उघड व्हायलाच पाहिजे एकदा..
हा पुढचा सांगतोय की हा व्हायरल व्हिडिओ आहे;खरा नाही..तरीही आपल्या राजू रंगारीच्या तोंडाचा पट्टा चालूच..
किती आत्मविश्वासाने खोटं बोलतो हा राजू पेंटर..रॅली मध्ये पण तेच आणि मुलाखतीत पण तेच.. pic.twitter.com/Oa3wkuFAWi
— चौकीदार आलू बोंडा (@ek_aalu_bonda) April 24, 2019
The original video is from 18 December 2016, in which PM Modi can be seen lauding a little girl for her rendition of ‘Ramayana’ on stage. However, the latest fact-checker on the block, Raj Thackeray chose a dubbed video to slam Modi claiming that it is Modi who is asking the little girl to say “Rahul Gandhi Pappu hai”. Nevertheless, Thackeray is being feted by a section of Liberal media as a ‘fact-checker’.
Raj Thackeray’s MNS has been a right-wing Marathi ethnocentric regional party in Maharashtra. It rose to prominence in 2009 when MNS managed to bag 13 seats out of the 288 Vidhan Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Since then, the party is struggling as it is facing increasing headwinds from its opponent Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and BJP who have been dynamic in heeding the changing demands of the people. In 2014, when the Modi wave swept across the country, MNS was blown to bits with just a single legislator making it to the Vidhan Sabha.
In 2008, MNS workers were accused of beating up people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar working in Mumbai. Thackeray, with his son-of-the-soil rhetoric, was accused of whipping up the frenzy against the migrant workers in his impassioned idiosyncratic way. In 2013, Raj Thackeray held people from UP and Bihar responsible for the rising rape incidents in the country. PVR staff men were allegedly beaten up by MNS workers in 2018. In their protest against the pothole deaths in Navi Mumbai, MNS workers vandalised the PWD office in 2018. Raj Thackeray also threatened to scuttle the Bullet train project in Mumbai as a mark of protest against the apathy shown by Railways to the problems faced by commuters.
In the aftermath of the Uri attack in 2016, in which Pakistani terrorists killed Indian soldiers, Raj Thackeray held eminent filmmaker Karan Johar to ransom for casting Pakistani actor in his movie and asked him to pay Rs 5 crores to the Army Welfare Association for ensuring an uninterrupted release of his movie ADHM. Liberals had then excoriated Raj Thackeray for his extortionist behaviour with regard to the release of Karan Johar’s movie.
With the recent event of Liberals embracing Raj into their fold, two things are pretty clear- First, there is a dearth of a genuine leader in the opposition who can mount a powerful offence to take on the might of the PM Modi and second, Liberals have no qualms in co-opting an ideological opponent who is prone to lying to take on their bete noire Modi, even if it comes at the cost of sacrificing their own cherished ideology.