Is Raj Thackeray eyeing Sena’s ‘Hindutva’ turf in Maharashtra? The speaker distance of the MNS boss speaks volumes

Judging by the headlines of the past few days, Raj Thackeray is back on the Maharashtra political stage. Maharashtra chief Navnirman Sena (MNS), once seen as the political heir to his red-hot uncle Bal Thackeray, is taking the spotlight with his war on loudspeakers in Maharashtra and calling for a ban on loudspeaker systems outside mosques.

In other words, say political pundits, Raj Thackeray is trying to follow in the footsteps of the Shiv Sena, which has softened on its “Hindutva” seat after an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress that governs the state.

The leader’s latest crusade – which he launched by challenging Maha Vikas Aghadi’s government to shut down all loudspeakers by May 3 – was amplified at a mega-rally in Aurangabad on Sunday when he said he would be open from May 4 May “listen to no one”. .

“It’s now or never…. All loudspeakers must be removed after May 3rd. After (Ramzan) Eid…. From May 4th I will listen to no one. All Hindus will blare Hanuman Chalisa in front of Mosques at double volume”, he thundered at the rally in the tourist center of Aurangabad.

He took up the demand more broadly, demanding that loudspeakers be taken down from all religious venues across the country, even temples, but only after they have been removed from mosques.

Raj went on to warn that “if the government does not honor its ultimatum by May 3,” he will not be responsible for the consequences, adding that he has no interest or interest in having unrest in the state.

He reiterated that speakers were a “social” and not a “religious” issue, and clarified that if Muslims tried to make it a “religious” issue, Hindus would respond with religion as well.

The true offspring?

Accusing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray – also Raj Thackeray’s cousin – of removing loudspeakers set up by Hindus, the MNS stepped up its attack and claimed its party leader was the “true heir” of the late Bal Thackeray, who often referred to as a “crusader” for Hindus will.

The party put up a banner addressed to Bal Thackeray in front of the Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar, which read: “You see, your son CM Uddhav Thackeray, although he is Hindu, is asking us to remove the loudspeakers set up by Hindus. He forbids us to recite Hanuman Chalisa.”

“If anyone carries on your legacy and is your true heir, then only Raj Thackeray,” it said.

The 54-year-old, who was once known as his uncle’s alter ego, seems to be on the way to reinventing himself and his political career. With his ‘Marathi Manoos’ pitch unsuccessful with voters, Raj Thackeray is looking for more macroeconomic Hindutva appeal.

While his cousin runs the state as chief minister, Raj Thackeray is now aping his uncle when it comes to optics. Wrapped in a saffron shawl, the leader now begins his speech with the well-known “Jamlelya majhya tamam Hindu Mata, bhagini ani bhadhu… (Greetings to my Hindu mothers, sisters and brothers)” just as Bal Thackeray did.

Would you like to eat in Sena’s room?

Raj Thackeray’s political reinvention comes at a time when the BJP has accused the Shiv Sena of “abandoning” Hindutva and allying with the NCP and Congress.

The choice of venue for the May Day rally was also significant: Aurangabad is a Sena stronghold outside of Mumbai and Thane. The party is demanding that the city named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb be renamed Sambhajinagar, after the eldest son of Maratha King Shivaji.

Raj Thackeray is also due to visit Ayodhya on June 5 – a classic move after his recent praise of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for dismantling loudspeakers in the state.

What’s brewing with the BJP?

The MNS chief also appears to have softened his stance on the BJP, once a Shiv Sena ally. By a harsh critic of the Saffron party, the MNS now appears to have reached a tacit accord with the BJP.

The development also gains significance because it comes months before elections in 15 local governments and 27 district councils – seen as the litmus test for the 2024 general and state elections.

Raj Thackeray’s speaker diatribe also drew support from the BJP, as both skipped an all-party meeting convened by Uddhav Thackeray to discuss the controversy, and now accuse the Sena of forgetting “Bal Thackeray’s principles.”

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari met Raj Thackeray at his Shivaji Park residence last month. Maharashtra’s former Prime Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his wife Amrita Fadnavis also met him last November, sparking speculation about a possible alliance between the two parties.

However, despite speculation, both the BJP and MNS have so far denied working together.

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