Tale of two Thackerays

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 - 9:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
The city has voted in the two Thackeray cousins. But they are as alike as red and saffron. Sure, they share the Tiger’s legacy as well as a yen for the arts.

Their interactions with the media said it all. Uddhav was patient and handled uncomfortable questions with a grin and gentle plea to give him a break; Raj had his ‘can’t-suffer-the-media’ face and took on neutral queries like a raging bull.

The city has voted in the two Thackeray cousins. But they are as alike as red and saffron. Sure, they share the Tiger’s legacy as well as a yen for the arts. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Uddhav doesn’t have his father’s charisma. That he not only knows it but doesn’t try to project any works in his favour. This peace-loving heir leads a party that is defined by aggression. But he makes up in feistiness what he lacks in ardour.

The two cousins share a modern and professional approach to their work but have contrasting styles of functioning. Uddhav is consistent; Raj changes his template according to the mood. He could demand that no one speak Hindi and calmly tell you the next day that he is not against any language but people have misunderstood him. He personally enjoys Hindi poetry and songs while his website has only Marathi and English versions.
Uddhav has methodically worked to reach out to the lower tiers. A few years ago, he made some structural changes to his organisation. In addition to the up-vibhag pramukh for every assembly segment and a shakha pramukh for every ward, he appointed an up-shakha pramukh for every polling station. What was unusual was that almost each one of them was appointed by him personally. That’s a tall order, considering that every assembly seat has about five to six polling stations.

He meets a large number of party workers, even one-on-one. Jittery before the poll, the Sena also got a professional survey done to assess its chances. On the other hand, Raj works mostly through his tiers of general secretaries and vice-presidents. The coterie’s hold over him is not seen too kindly by the MNS ranks. At

the same time, he pays attention to his party workers.
Raj plays his uncle’s clone to the hilt, but much as he aspires to be the new tiger, he is averse to traditional politics. True, he has effortlessly taken over the rabble-rousing mantle from his uncle. For all his hubris, he targets the Sena’s primary vote bank. But he comes with a 21st century worldview. Raj understands the value of the Muslim vote and refuses to tot up a saffron scorecard. He woos the Maharashtrians by alienating the north Indians.

When Raj decided against having a poll manifesto, many criticised his reactive politics and lack of developmental agenda. But Raj was firm that he did not want to flaunt promises until he had the majority and was in a position to deliver.

In fact, he has the much-touted “blueprint” in the making. He has formed 55 cells fashioned on the lines of government departments to mould his charter. Uddhav is more hard-working and grounded than Raj. But Raj beats Uddhav in his grasp of realpolitik. Raj strategises better and has marked out the cities as his initial goalposts. His work in Nashik had a team coming from Gujarat to take lessons. Uddhav’s heart bleeds for the farmer but for some reason, he won’t put his soul into it.

It’s a pity that the Thackeray scions turn up their noses at each other. Each is a perfect foil to the other. Now, if only the ego could be resolved.

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