The Shiv Sena’s attack on radio jockey Malishka over her song mocking the Mumbai civic body on potholes could come in the way of the efforts of Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray to attract youth to the five-decade old party, according to political observers. Malishka has incurred the Sena’s wrath with her song highlighting commuting woes on potholes-ridden roads in Mumbai during the monsoon. Her satirical video shows the Sena-ruled Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) in poor light, Sena leaders have claimed.
Members of the Yuva Sena, the party’s youth wing, were among the first to approach the MCGM chief and seek action against the popular RJ for ‘maligning’ the civic body. The youth wing is headed by Aaditya, the 27-year-old son of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Senior political analyst Prakash Akolkar said, “It’s indeed affecting what Aaditya Thackeray is trying to do. Their (Sena leaders’) haste (in targeting Malishka) could damage Aaditya’s efforts to woo youth to the party.
“The attack on Malishka is ironic, as Shiv Sena’s foundation followed a series of satirical articles by the late Bal Thackeray in the 1960s,” said Akolkar, author of an authoritative history of the saffron party.
“Bal Thackeray, after penning several articles on the plight of `Marathi manoos’, established the Shiv Sena in 1966 as an organisation with focus on social justice and later entered the political arena,” he said. `Marmik’, the Marathi magazine where these articles were published, continues to carry satirical pieces on social and political issues, Akolkar said. The senior journalist noted that though Bal Thackeray was a cartoonist, he didn’t take a charitable view of criticism directed at himself or his party.
“The Shiv Sena is confused about its present and future. The leadership does not know what is going on in the world or the society and how to react to several issues. It is in power (as an ally in the BJP-led coalition in Maharashtra) but tries to act like an opposition party,” Akolkar said.
Aaditya has a sizable presence on social media, with his Twitter account having over five lakh followers. He is seen actively trying to woo the young, social-media savvy generation.
Asked about the impact of the Malishka episode on Shiv Sena’s efforts to attract youth, party spokesperson Manisha Kayande said, “It does affect the constituency Aaditya has been targeting. I can understand if they are a bit upset with the way Malishka was targeted. Her video song should have been taken lightly.
“We will have to take extra efforts for not losing communication with the young generation. Some of them would be disappointed with the party’s recent actions, but we will have to convince them,” she said.
“RJs are mostly into entertainment. Why should they comment on social issues, especially when they are far away from ground reality?” Kayande asked.
Madhav Bhandari, chief spokesperson of state BJP, said, “The Shiv Sena’s attitude has hardly changed since its inception. Its attitude towards criticism has remained the same. Its outlook of the world has also not changed, as seen from the Malishka episode.”
According to some analysts, the Sena has been finding it difficult to reconcile itself with the changed political reality after the BJP, once its junior partner in the saffron alliance, emerged as the single largest party in the 2014 Assembly elections.
The BJP kept up its winning spree with an impressive performance in the local body polls. It was followed by the 2017 MCGM elections where the BJP’s seat count more than doubled, from 30 to 82, slightly less than the Sena’s tally, in the 227-house. This has put pressure on the Shiv Sena, which has been in power in the MCGM since late 1980s, they said.