UDDHAV THACKERAY’S swearing-in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and the Shiv Sena-Congress alliance, which made this possible, mark the end of ideology in Indian politics. The Shiv Sena, since its inception in 1966, has always remained the embodiment of xenophobic son-of-the-soil politics against non-Marathi-speaking residents of Mumbai, hardline Hindutva, and of course, hate speech. Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena founder and father of the new CM, was in 1999 debarred by the Election Commission of India from even casting his vote for a speech he made in 1987 in Vile Parle. Now, this very party has become the mascot for the Congress-led Opposition as it gets together to fight Hindutva and the ruling BJP. This ought to be the height of hypocrisy.
After giving complete support to the Sena and getting two MLAs sworn in as ministers in Thackeray’s Cabinet, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi deftly kept themselves away from Thackeray’s swearing-in, only to emerge fresh the next morning to protest against Pragya Thakur’s Hindutva. After all, Pragya Thakur is only a pale shadow of Bal Thackeray, who praised Nathuram Godse in an election rally in 1991 while seeking votes for the BJP’s Anna Joshi in Pune.
This open act of opportunism by the Congress should now put an end to all its pretensions of a secular, centrist ideology. In fact, this doublespeak explains Indian contemporary politics, which has eaten into the entrails of the soul of the nation, turning every politician opportunistic, every participant cynical and every public act suspect. Power politics without ideology is a mere market place of buying and selling, of deal-makers, where Gandhi and Godse are convertible currencies traded at par. The loser in this round is the BJP, which has been shown up to be less smart than the Congress and the NCP. The BJP has been fooled, defeated and humiliated in a deal that it initiated in the dead of night. The next round could only be worse. Now, after the clash of ideologies over a century, the only ‘ism’ left in Indian society is opportunism.