Samadhi politics

The Sena memorial has less to do with mourning. It is intended to be a political tool. History has numerous examples where the dead have been used to legitimise political transitions. Shivaji Park has been closely associated with the Shiv Sena since its foundation at the same location in 1966. It has been the site of its numerous rallies and the annual Dussehra address by its founder at this venue was an important event in the political calendar of the party, as well as the city. A memorial in Shivaji Park serves as political capital for the Sena. It is a calculated investment in death, which not only gives the dead man a new political life but also prevents others from appropriating his legacy. The unsolicited suggestions of the MNS regarding the memorial were clearly intended to play down the importance of the founding leader.

In hindsight, it appears that the Sena made calculated moves to build a "posthumous career" for its leader. The public funeral was allowed following a Sena request. This was step one of the plan. It was ostensibly permitted under exceptional circumstances of "maintaining public order", as it was felt that the alternative location would be unable to meet the rush of people. Post-funeral, the Sena turns around and demands a memorial in the park. It then ups the ante and complicates matters by comparing Shivaji Park to the legendary birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. For the Shiv Sena, a memorial could be a new lease of life. For the government, it is either the devil or the deep sea.

The writer is with the department of political science, Panjab University, Chandigarh

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