Monday, March 20, 2006

Why is Raj Thackeray wooing Muslims, Dalits & other minorities?

Bal Thackeray's nephew Raj Thackeray is courting Muslims and the Dalits too. This comes as no surprise and Raj understands ground realities. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city, the most diverse of all metros and has a staggering Muslim population now.

In the census of 1991, Mumbai metro had a population of 17 lakh Muslims that went up to 23 lakh in the Indian census of 2001. Who can ignore Muslims! The city has 4% Christians (the highest of any other metro) and a large number of Dalits/neo-Buddhists.

Further, Maharashtra is the only state apart from the small North Eastern states where there is such a large Buddhist population. In fact, the Buddhist population of Maharashtra alone accounts for over 75% of all Buddhists in India.

Almost 75 lakh Buddhists live in the state. It is for this reason that Shiv Sena/BJP find it hard to get a majority in a state that has the headquarter of RSS. Basically the Shiv Sena and BJP start with a disadvantage of almost 20% votes (Muslims-11% in state and Buddhists-8% in state).

The Sena has antagonised the North Indians, South Indians, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Dalits. So who will remain with them? Raj understands this ground arithmatic and that is the reason why the new found love towards Muslims.

Surely, Uddhav will find it difficult to prove himself as the real successor to Thackeray.