The sainiks in India have been notorious for fighting their "cause" in a different way. Be it the "soldiers" of the notorious Sri Ram Sena, or firebrand leader Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which has been subdued since the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections, or that of the original Sena – the Shiv Sena – which has been making all out efforts to assert its supremacy in the state after being outperformed by longtime ally BJP in the same electoral battle, hooliganism has remained their key principle to seek power or remain relevant.
Apparently, the Shiv Sena is hoping to be back in the reckoning in Maharashtra, which it once ruled as the bigger partner of the alliance with the BJP, by resorting to such tactics.
The party recently forced noted Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali to cancel his concert in Mumbai citing his nationality and the tension along the Indo-Pak border.
The latest move is much more shocking, as the person facing the brunt of the Shiv Sainiks is Sudheendra Kulkarni, ex-BJP idealogue and an old associate of party veteran LK Advani.
Probably what pained Kulkarni – the chairman of think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) – more is being labelled as a "deshdrohi", a traitor, when some Shiv Sainiks allegedly threw black ink on his face on Monday to discourage him from organising a function in Mumbai to launch former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book – Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy.
Strong reactions from ally BJP and other opponents failed to dissuade the Shiv Sena from pursuing its anti-Pakistan stance and thus the extreme intolerance. Continuing with its agenda – using Pakistan to gain lost ground in Maharashtra – Uddhav Thackeray's party has now allegedly threatened against a Pakistani food festival in Pune. The main organiser – young entrepreneur and Congress supporter Tehseen Poonawalla – posted on his Facebook page that Shiv Sena is threatening him against holding the event.
In the past, the MNS had tried to portray itself as a party against bhaiyas – people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh living in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. Like the parent party Shiv Sena, it also adopted an anti-Pakistan agenda. However, after making some quick gains, the party now seems to be struggling for its existence.
Another self-claimed group of nationalists – Pramod Muthalik's Sri Ram Sena – also tries to hog the limelight by indulging in acts of violence and vandalism from time to time.
Despite defeat after defeat, these sainiks have failed to realise that by creating such issues and showing intolerance, they are harming their parties more than benefiting. It would be better for the Thackeray cousins and Muthalik to learn from their experiences and follow a moderate and democratic way to register their protest if they think there is indeed an issue.
[Disclaimer: This article reflects the writer's personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of IBTimes India.]