by Praveen Swami
Ever since Thackeray's passing, many of India's most influential voices have
joined in the kind of lamentation normally reserved for saints and movie
stars. Ajay Devgn described him as "a man of vision"; Ram Gopal Varma as
"the true epitome of power". Amitabh Bachchan "admired his grit"; Lata
Mangeshkar felt "orphaned". Even President Pranab Mukherjee felt compelled
to describe Thackeray's death as an "irreparable loss". The harshest word
grovelling television reporters seemed able to summon was "divisive".
It is tempting to attribute this nauseous chorus to fear or obsequiousness.
Yet, there is a deeper pathology at work. In 1967, Thackeray told the
newspaper Navakal: "It is a Hitler that is needed in India today". This is
the legacy India's reliably anti-republican elite has joined in mourning.
Thackeray will be remembered for many things, including the savage communal
violence of 1992-1993. He was not, however, the inventor of such mass
killing, nor its most able practitioner. Instead, Thackeray's genius was
giving shape to an authentically Indian Fascism. . . .
Nostalgic accounts of Mumbai in the 1960s and 1970s represent it as a
cultural melting pot; a place of opportunity. It was also a living hell. . . .
Thackeray mined gold in these sewers -- building a politics that gave voice
to the rage of educated young men without prospects, and offering violence
as liberation. . . .
Luke Harding, "Gujarat, India:
Heart of Darkness," Guardian, September 15, 2003
Rama Lakshmi, "Hindus Detail
Involvement In Deadly '02 Riots in India On Video, Assailants Tell of State
Collusion," Washington Post, October 26, 2007
"Bal Thackeray still
critical, say doctors; Mumbai roads remain deserted," CNN-IBN,
November 15, 2012
[48,000 policemen have been deployed to keep vigil ahead of Shiv Sena chief
Bal Thackeray's funeral today. No autorickshaws and taxis will ply in Mumbai
today--Rashmi Rajput, "Bal Thackeray's funeral
today: Stay home, say police; autos and taxis off roads," ndtv.com,
November 18, 2012]
Markandey Katju, "Why I can't pay tribute to
Thackeray," ndtv.com, November 19, 2012