Sena’s internal politics gets national stage

Semi Column

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray appears to be using the tried and tested anti-Pakistan plank to get back to the centre stage of politics in Maharashtra.

The intense power tussle within the organisation triggered after the death of Bal Thackeray has left the leader at crossroads, unable to wield the remote to hold the Sainiks within the line of control. Sunday's protest, almost short of physical violence against the Pakistani hockey players in Mumbai, therefore does not come as a surprise.

A handful of Sainiks holding the party's saffron flags had barged inside the hockey stadium without confronting any challenge from the security forces deployed at the venue. Flexing their muscles, they had not only stopped the practice session but also gone into the dressing room heaping anti-Pakistan slogans.

With the India-Pakistan border tension now forcing all Pakistani players out of the Hockey India League, it allows the Sena to take credit for the move.

The moot issue, however, remains the role of the state Congress-NCP government in the whole episode. Not only did the home department fail to crack the whip against the Sainiks, the Congress went so far as to justify the Sena "anger".

In the backdrop of the developments at the Line of Control, anti-Pakistan echoes are getting louder within the political spectrum. However, Maharashtra once again has acquired the distinction of allowing it to spill over into the sports field.

Should the state government let the Sena exploit the emotive anti-Pakistan sentiments to rejuvenate the sagging spirits of its own cadre, such instances may multiply.

Shubhangi is a senior editor based in Mumbai

shubhangi.khapre @expressindia.com

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