‘The impression of fear, it’s good for me... I like it’

Walk the Talk
Excerpts from The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta's interview with Bal Thackeray on NDTV's Walk the Talk, published in January 2007

My guest today is, well, there are many ways to describe him— ageless angry young man of Mumbai, cartoonist, and the Lion in Winter... so let me ask Balasaheb Thackeray which one does he prefer.

Call me a tiger.

A tiger for all seasons?

All seasons, yes. There is no season. When I met Narendra Modi, I said here is a Gujarat lion. He liked it.

Considering that not many people say good things about him...

...Everyone was demanding Modi must go... I told BJP, "If Modi goes, Gujarat goes..."

But remember, Atalji had gone to Gujarat and talked about Raj Dharma... There was an issue of Raj Dharma in what happened in Gujarat, wasn't there?

Raj Dharma? Huh! What's Raj Dharma? There is no such thing anywhere in the country. There is only one dharma, Muslim dharma.

I am fascinated by your saying that you are not a Gandhian because today Gandhi has become very popular...

Sometimes you love a person, admire a person, respect a person... as it is in my case. I don't know why people love me, admire me...

They also fear you.

I welcome that fear.

And why should they fear you?

That you should ask them. When they meet me they say, "Oh, such a wonderful man." They never think he is (I am) an arrogant man. (They think) I am a simple man. After meeting me, they carry that impression.

But not everybody can meet you .

That's the impression (of fear) outside. And it's good for me...I like it.

You see nothing wrong with dictatorship if it is benevolent?

No. But it has to be benevolent dictatorship. Why I am where I am? The mobs need leadership.

You wrote an editorial recently in Samna praising Saddam Hussein.

Yes I did, because I did not like it when Bush attacked Iraq.

How does that square with your suspicion of the Muslims?

I don't blame all Muslims, but it is difficult to make out which Muslim loves this country and which doesn't.

You don't regret having praised Hitler?

I condemn Hitler because of the massacre of Jews. But I love artists, painters.

... as you have picked up your wine glass, let me wish you a happy 80th birthday. Do you drink wine in the afternoon everyday?

Yes... and in the evening, after nine.

You have it as wine or medicine?

Actually medicine. I have constipation. The doctor advised me to drink red wine, but I don't like the taste of it. I like white.

Red wine is good for the heart...

But I don't have a heart, I am a heartless person. So white is good for me.

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