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A tale of two Sanjays: The Maharashtra conundrum

Owing to Shiv Sena's stubbornness, not only did it put an entire state into uncertainty, it also paved way for its own oblivion

On 24th October when the Maharashtra state assembly elections were declared, nobody would’ve imagined that President’s rule will be imposed in the state. In an assembly of 288 constituencies, the BJP won 105 seats, emerging as single largest party and its pre-poll alliance partner Shiv Sena got 56 seats. But owing to Shiv Sena’s stubbornness, not only did it put an entire state into uncertainty, it also paved way for its own oblivion.

In this entire political drama, one cannot forget the role of Sanjay Raut, who is the Rajya Sabha MP from Shiv Sena representing Maharashtra. He is also the executive editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece, ‘Saamana’. His extremely vocal politics reminded people of the executive editor of Saamana’s Hindi version, ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’, Sanjay Nirupam. It was said that whatever Sanjay Nirupam is saying, it is endorsed by Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena founder and father of current Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Hence when Sanjay Raut repeatedly said that Maharashtra chief minister would be from Shiv Sena, it was believed that it was endorsed by Uddhav Thackeray.

Read: Grab power or we will be finished in the state: Maharashtra Congress leaders urge Sonia Gandhi to agree for an alliance with Sena and NCP

In 1993, Bal Thackeray made Sanjay Nirupam executive editor of ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’. Nirupam soon became Thackeray’s blue-eyed boy. He got awarded for his loyalty too. Sanjay Nirupam was sent to the Rajya Sabha by Shiv Sena in 1996. But as soon as he established himself in politics, Sanjay Nirupam jumped ships and ditched Shiv Sena for Congress.

As Sanjay Nirupam moved on to Congress, Sanjay Raut started to gain prominence in Shiv Sena. He may have started his political career in Shiv Sena after Sanjay Nirupam left, but he was the executive editor of Saamana since 1992. Some even say that he was the one who brought Nirupam to Matoshree. Nirupam’s wife is a Marathi and an old acquaintance of Sanjay Raut. After the 1992 riots and 1993 Mumbai blasts, when Bal Thackeray decided to launch a Hindi paper, it was Sanjay Raut only who had recommended Sanjay Nirupam to Bal Thackeray.

After Nirupam left, there was a void of big leader in Shiv Sena. To fill that void, Raut entered active politics. But, Bal Thackeray’s Hindutva politics has taken a blow because of this one step. Matoshree is now dependent on ‘Matashree’. Shiv Sena has tried to form government by forging an alliance with a party whose government was once referred to as ‘a rule of eunuchs’ by Bal Thackeray. Uddhav Thackeray has put trust in the politics of Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar. On their command, he got his central minister to resign from Modi cabinet. Even then, Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar did not welcome him with open arms.

Read: Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut invokes fictional Dawood in current Maharashtra crisis

After Sanjay Nirupam left Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray had once famously said that he has stopped having a pet dog. Uddhav, however, neither has the attitude of Bal Thackeray nor power. So, he may not be able to express his feelings. He perhaps forgot that in the Hindu epic Mahabharat, it was Sanjaya who had relayed the scene from Kurukshetra to Dhritarashtra. These are the Sanjay of today. They will not leave a chance to throw their leader under the bus with their high promises. Whether it is Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha or Bihar Chief Minister’s close aide and Bihar minister Sanjay Kumar Jha.

Note: You can read the above article in Hindi here.

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