A Grand Memorial For Bal Thackeray!

Yesterday’s Maharashtra Times [MT] brought the news of a controversy over a memorial for Bal Thackeray, the late supreme leader of Shivsena. Manohar Joshi, a loyal Shivsainik, former chief minister of Maharashtra and former speaker of Loksabha [lower house of parliament], had proposed that a befitting memorial for Thackeray could only be erected at Shivaji Park – an open green public space in Mumbai, a rarity in an otherwise concrete jungle. Shivsena claims an umbilical connection to Shivaji Park, where its first ever  public meeting was held some 46 years ago. Locals expressed displeasure over the loss of their green space if such memorial were constructed there. When news reached Uddhav, Thackeray’s son, he released a press-note in Marathi, which as was reported in print edition MT contained a barely veiled threat. When I searched for the news item in the digital edition of MT, to my perplexity, everything else was there except the veiled threat.

^^शिवसेनाप्रमुख बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांच्या स्मारकाबद्दल वाद घालण्याची ही वेळ नाही . त्यामुळे तूर्तास हा वाद थांबवावा, अशी विनंती शिवसेना कार्यप्रमुख उद्धव ठाकरे यांनी शिवसैनिक आणि नागरिकांना केली आहेबाळासाहेबांच्या जाण्याने ठाकरे परिवारावर मोठे संकट कोसळले आहे. या सायातून ठाकरे कुटुंब अद्याप सावरलेले नाही. अशावेळी बाळासाहेबांच्या स्मारकावरून कोणीही कोणताही वाद निर्माण करू नये, अशी हात जोडून विनंती करतो . तूर्तास हा थांबवावा. आमच्या भावना समजून घ्याव्यात^^. Uddhav Thackeray [UT] here said, *I sincerely request you and appeal to both sides to refrain from any controversy over Memorial for the late leader as his family is still trying to come to terms over the great loss it has suffered*. But what he added later, ^^शिवसेनाप्रमुख आणि शिवसैनिक यांच्यामध्ये आपण येऊ नये असे आवाहन उद्धव ठाकरे यांनी एकापत्रकाद्वारे केले आहे शिवसेनाप्रमुखांचे स्मारक कुठे असावे याचा निर्णय शिवसैनिकच घेतील.^^ does not make sense in the context. The addition reads: *Those who are not happy with the choice of place for memorial should not meddle between the late leader and feelings of his followers. The decision on location of his memorial would be taken by Shivsainiks alone*. Obviously this narration sounds disjointed and lacks clarity, whereas what I read in the print edition made perfect sense. I considered scanning the print edition and posting the scan.

But a little more persistence threw up another news item on the same subject in Maharashtra Times [This one has article reference#17301818, whereas the earlier one carries reference #17295016]. The respective headlines were: Latter ^^शिवसेनाप्रमुखांच्या स्मारकाचा वाद नको!^^ and Former ^^स्मारकाचा वाद थांबवा: उद्धव^^. This is a curiosity indeed. One wonders if this is a standard practise so that if a version creates controversy it could be disappeared, but there would always be another to stand instead. The second version reads: ^^उद्धव यांनी निवेदन प्रसिद्धीस देऊन त्याद्वारे ही विनंती केली. या निवेदनात त्यांनी म्हटले आहे की, वाद घालण्याची ही वेळ नाही. विनाकारण वाद करणाऱ्यांना माझी हात जोडून विनंती आहे, की कृपया आम्हास संयम राखण्यास सहकार्य करावे. शिवसेनाप्रमुखांच्या अंतिम दर्शनासाठी उसळलेला २५ लाखांचा जनसागर संयम शिस्तीत वागला. मी त्यांच्या संयमास दाद देतो, धन्यवाद देतो. स्मारकाबद्दलचा निर्णयही हे लाखो कडवट शिवसैनिकच घेतील. शिवसेनाप्रमुख शिवसैनिकांच्या मध्ये मी पडणार नाही^^. All the references now fall cogently in place. In free translation UT’s appeal would read:*This is not a time for unnecessary controversies. I sincerely request those who are raising a controversy to help us hold our restraint. Over 25 lacs attended the departed leader’s funeral procession in an orderly and disciplined manner. I laud their restraint. Decision on the memorial will also be taken by these hundreds of thousands of staunch Shivsainiks. I will not interfere in their [Shivsainiks] love and reverence for their departed supreme leader*. Now, does that ring an alarm?

The Marathi word *संयम* would usually be rendered in translation as *restraint*, but it doesn’t capture the full complexity of meaning of the original. Restraint is commonly imposed on someone else, otherwise one has to qualify its use as *Self-Restraint*. Even self-restraint is a kind of struggle between natural inclination to act and what is advisable or prudent at the moment, and where the latter wins out or is made to win with lot of effort. संयम on the other hand is a trait that guides towards calm, wise and conscious choice out of the available alternatives based on what would lead to greater good, and usually errs on the side of constructive and peaceful action. When understood in this fuller sense, help us to maintain संयम sounds like help us to remain calm and non-violent. Then the true purport of the reference to उसळलेला २५ लाखांचा जनसागर -totally unrestrained crowd of 2.5 million- संयम शिस्तीत वागला -that behaved with restrain and discipline- becomes clear. Please be mindful what would happen if you tried their संयम. The decision –स्मारकाबद्दलचा निर्णयही हे लाखो कडवट शिवसैनिकच घेतील– regarding [place of] memorial would be taken by these millions of committed [staunch] Shivnaiks [soldiers of Shivaji] alone [No one should attempt to play with fire of their emotions]. शिवसेनाप्रमुख शिवसैनिकांच्या मध्ये मी पडणार नाही– I would not interfere [and no one else dare interfere] and won’t be responsible for what happens if the decision that Shivsainiks take out of their reverence for supreme leader is meddled with. The मराठी माणूस [Maharashtrian] in whose name Thackeray avowedly fought and those who understand the language would hardly need this paraphrasing to know what the real message is. This is a typical Thackeray Style or ठाकरी शैली – Not To Say, Yet Say exactly what one wants.

Congress [NCP included] and Shivsena have both competed to exploit for electoral gains reverence in which Shivaji Maharaj is held in Maharashtra. Building a grand and larger than life Monument for Shivaji has been another competitive game played out by them. A grand offshore monument that would be so large as to be clearly visible from Mumbai’s shoreline was talked off by both parties. A figure of INR 400 crores [4 billion] had found mention. It does not matter that state’s finances are in bad shape [well, whose are in good shape anyway?]. It doesn’t matter farmers routinely commit suicides in Maharashtra. It doesn’t matter severe malnutrition and related deaths plague under five children in Maharashtra. It doesn’t matter that female foeticide………… But what does matter is that a grand monument must be build for revered leaders. Thackeray revered his image of what Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was. He probably imagined and fashioned himself in that image. Wouldn’t it be grand idea to build that grand monument for Shivaji by spending hundreds of crores of rupees? Wouldn’t it be still better, if Thackeray too was immortalised alongside his revered image of Shivaji Maharaj? Wouldn’t he himself have cherished such an idea? That way there won’t be any controversy, nor any bloodbath. Congress [and NCP] and Shivsena can both claim credit for immortalising Shivaji Maharaj; and Shivsena for immortalising Thackeray. The hapless residents of Dadar, where Shivaji Park is, would get to keep their green lung.
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One Response to “A Grand Memorial For Bal Thackeray!”

  1. IBN Live Says:

    Raj is Bal Thackeray's nephew. He split with Shivsena over limits to his growth and formed his own outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena [MNS]. Recently, rapprochement was in the air as health of senior Thackeray, and even Uddhav had become an issue. MNS has demanded that Thackeray's memorial should not be at Shivaji Park, but at defunct Indu Mills. Demand is calculated at creating huge controversy and raising the stakes like at a gambling table. Indu Mill land has for long been claimed for a memorial to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who is revered by the Dalits [scheduled castes] for his leadership and played a key role in drafting India's constitution. MNS demand looks like a clever ploy as it would raise political temperature unbearably high, and in the resultant stormy fault-lines, lesser of the two evils so to say, that is Shivaji Park, may have to be turned in for Thackeray memorial. Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party has already supported Shivaji Park demand in a clever attempt to embarrass its coalition partner in State government and has pointed fingers at Congress' chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to bite the bullet. MNS demand now would make things red hot for Congress and NCP as both would be loathe to antagonise dalit vote. Incidentally, dalit leader, Ramdas Athavale is in Shivsena camp currently. Indu Mill demand would make things uncomfortable for him too. Nephew is turning out to be a true inheritor of senior Thackeray's brand of divisive politics.Sadanand

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