Uddhav Thackeray Finds His Best Self In Corona Crisis

In a severe and unprecedented crisis, such as the one our world is currently battling, some individuals and institutions change and become better selves of their own. They reinvent themselves by making introspective efforts to let the good and positive in them get the better of their lesser selves. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez says in his celebrated novel 'Love in the Time of Cholera', "..the heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good." In 'Politics in the Time of Corona', something akin is happening to some leaders in India.

Of course, no crisis is so hugely transformative that it can change all politicians for the better. Nor can it make even those politicians who do change exemplars of all virtue. Politics is a difficult and frustrating vocation for souls that want to remain completely untainted. It is for this reason that some Gandhians hold a debatable belief - that a greater Mahatma than Mohandas Gandhi was his saintly disciple Vinoba Bhave. Their logic: Gandhi, though a Great Soul, entered the polluting portals of politics, whereas Vinoba stayed out of it. As I said, the belief is debatable.

We are of course going to discuss a lesser mortal than Gandhi and Vinoba in this article. Nevertheless, his being a run-of-the-mill politician does not belittle the significance of the amazing transformation in Uddhav Thackeray's politics and persona since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The new Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the state that has registered the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in India, is suddenly being hailed by many as a gentler, kinder and a truly inclusive leader. Barring the baying trolls working for the BJP's infamous IT Cell, most are appreciating his calm and compassionate handling of the corona emergency. Even his erstwhile critics (I include myself among them) are praising his concern for and his outreach to every section of society, especially Muslims, his firm grip on the administration, and his tireless involvement in every aspect of crisis management.

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured migrant workers - stranded in the state - that he will arrange for their travel back to their hometowns

 Indeed, the one image of Uddhav that has endeared him to friends and foes alike is the total lack of arrogance. Even before the Corona crisis, power was seen to be sitting lightly on his shoulders. After the crisis, his regular addresses to the people on television and social media have further reinforced the popular impression that he is humble, sincere, fully focused on his job, and therefore deserving of support. His political opponents (read: the BJP) did try to corner him over two unfortunate developments in the state during the lockdown - the sudden and totally unexpected crowding of migrant workers near Bandra station in Mumbai that led to a chaotic situation, and the horrific mob lynching of three persons, two of them sadhus, in Palghar. On both occasions, Uddhav's response was admirably Chief Ministerial. After the Palghar incident, he tweeted: "Those trying to inflame passions, must desist from doing so. There is no Hindu-Muslim angle or communalism in this attack. Two policemen were suspended immediately."

Earlier, when the BJP and its supporters started communalizing the Corona crisis (using the Tablighi Jamaat assembly in Delhi as the pretext) and spreading more hatred against the Muslim community, Uddhav sent a similarly stern message: "Like Covid-19 virus, there is a communal virus, too. I am warning those who are spreading wrong messages to the citizens. This Covid-19 virus sees no religion." Ideally, this warning should have been sounded by Modi, on whose watch his followers have communally polarized India to an alarming level. It was the Prime Minister's constitutional and moral duty to reprimand them. He did tweet on April 19 - "COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking" - but the message sounded half-hearted, half-muted, and entirely inadequate to the call of the hour. And even this much was not spoken by him in his widely watched TV addresses to the nation during the lockdown. Unsurprising, because the PM has his own considerations. (Didn't I say "no crisis is so hugely transformative that it can change all politicians for the better"?)

Under Uddhav's leadership, his party, the Shiv Sena, has also undergone an uncharacteristic transformation. Now that it is in the driving seat of the three-party alliance governing Maharashtra - the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress being its allies - it is being seen as a responsible and constructive party wedded to what Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called 'Coalition Dharma'. Its divorce from the Bharatiya Janata Party, its longtime ideological partner, in November last year was bitter and openly acrimonious. Uddhav's own personal relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had become extremely strained. However, once in office, neither he nor his party colleagues have taken a confrontational posture vis-à-vis the central government. Despite recurrent provocations from the BJP, which seems unwilling to accept its new position as an opposition party in the state, the Shiv Sena has shown remarkable self-restraint. This is being interpreted by many neutral observers in Maharashtra as Uddhav's decision to rise above petty politics and give primacy to the interests of the state and the wellbeing of its people.

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Uddhav Thackeray during a meeting on COVID-19 at his official bungalow in Mumbai 

This is also evident from the nearly bickering-free internal functioning of the three-party government. Historically, the Shiv Sena's relations with both the NCP and Congress were marked by intense animosity. This was partly because the Shiv Sena and NCP-Congress were on opposite sides of the ideological divide. They were also on opposite sides of the power divide, because of the Sena's three-decade-long electoral alliance with the BJP. Since coming to power, Uddhav has established a smooth working relationship with both the NCP and the Congress, always being genuinely courteous and respectful towards the presidents of the two parties - Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi. 

The Shiv Sena's new maturity, and its willingness to change both ideologically and politically, was evident in another startling recent development. Saamna, the party's highly popular newspaper in Marathi, showered encomiums on Rahul Gandhi after he addressed a widely-appreciated press conference on the Corona pandemic on April 16. Its editorial said: "Gandhi has to be praised for the stand he has taken in the present crisis. He has created a model code of conduct on how an opposition party should behave when the country is faced with a crisis." Remarkably, the editorial was titled 'Rahul Gandhinche Chintan Shibir' (Rahul Gandhi's Brainstorming Session). In Indian politics, 'Chintan Shibir' is a term usually associated with the BJP. I have attended many 'Chintan Shibirs' during my past association with the BJP, when it was led by Vajpayee and L.K. Advani. Sadly, unlike the Shiv Sena, today's arrogant BJP leaders have exhibited a complete absence of constructive 'chintan'. Far from welcoming Rahul Gandhi's positive politics on the Corona situation, they are busy mocking him.

Many longtime observers of the Shiv Sena are today wondering: How did this party change so much so soon? After all, its transformation under the leadership of Uddhav (and Uddhav's son Aditya, a promising young politician) is in visible contrast to the negative image, rooted in reality, which the party carried in the past. For the longest period since its inception in 1966, the Shiv Sena was known for its militancy on two fronts. First, for its militant advocacy of the rights of "Marathi Manoos" - the Marathi-speaking people of Mumbai and Maharashtra. And later, from the 1980s onwards, for its militant advocacy of Hindutva. It was in this later phase that Uddhav's late father Balasaheb Thackeray, the Shiv Sena's iconic founder and supremo, began to be eulogised as the 'Hindu Hriday Samrat' - the Emperor of Hindu Hearts. Shiv Sainiks and several of their leaders were enthusiastically involved in communal riots in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. Their linguistic narrow-mindedness and strong-arm tactics alienated many non-Marathi Hindus in Mumbai, famed for its cosmopolitanism.

What made the Shiv Sena change? And is the change enduring, or only temporary and transitory? These questions require a deeper, and separate, analysis. What is important right now, and eminently to be welcomed by all who value communal harmony, democracy and national unity in India, is that a powerful regional party and its leader have changed for the better. The Corona crisis has accelerated this positive change. If Uddhav Thackeray remains true to his better self, it is safe to predict that he will emerge as a consequential leader in the post-Corona political developments at the national level - and also in the post-Modi governance architecture in India.

(The writer was an aide to India's former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

World

2,06,20,701Cases
70,44,442Active
1,28,26,901Recovered
7,49,358Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 188 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 2,06,20,701 and 7,49,358 have died; 70,44,442 are active cases and 1,28,26,901 have recovered as on August 13, 2020 at 9:49 am.

India

23,96,637 66999Cases
6,53,622 9674Active
16,95,982 56383Recovered
47,033 942Deaths
In India, there are 23,96,637 confirmed cases including 47,033 deaths. The number of active cases is 6,53,622 and 16,95,982 have recovered as on August 13, 2020 at 8:00 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Akola757
Aurangabad1974
Dhule228
Jalgaon1039
Mumbai45478
Mumbai Suburban5363
Nagpur692
Nashik1575
Palghar1421
Pune9920
Satara629
Solapur1291
Thane13660
Yavatmal150
Ahmednagar190
Amravati291
Beed54
Bhandara41
Buldhana88
Chandrapur32
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Kolhapur646
Latur139
Nanded176
Nandurbar42
Parbhani78
Raigad1462
Ratnagiri350
Sangli145
Gadchiroli42
gondia69
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Wardha11
Washim13

548313 12712

147820

381843 13408

18650 344

DistrictCases
Chittoor319
Guntur511
Krishna557
Kurnool795
Sri Potti Sriramulu Nell*296
Anantapur428
East Godavari356
Prakasam104
Srikakulam183
Visakhapatnam103
West Godavari199
Y.S.R.205
Vizianagaram23

254146 9597

90425 2828

161425 6676

2296 93

DistrictCases
Bengaluru Rural40
Bengaluru Urban529
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Ballari60
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Chikkaballapura149
Dakshina Kannada179
Dharwad61
Gadag45
Kalaburagi669
Mandya346
Tumakuru36
Uttara Kannada95
Vijayapura201
Chamarajanagara0
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Davangere204
Hassan205
Haveri24
Kodagu4
Kolar29
Koppal5
Raichur369
Ramanagara3
Shivamogga67
Udupi1176
Yadgir538

196494 7883

80351 737

112633 7034

3510 112

DistrictCases
North Goa57
South Goa69

9924 480

3194 316

6641 161

89 3

DistrictCases
Chengalpattu1314
Chennai23324
Kanchipuram503
Madurai322
Namakkal83
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Thiruvallur774
Thiruvarur67
Tiruppur116
Vellore71
Virudhunagar185
Ariyalur444
Coimbatore188
Cuddalore477
Dharmapuri15
Dindigul175
Erode75
Kallakurichi324
Kanniyakumari110
Karur88
Nagapattinam99
Perambalur133
Pudukkottai53
Ramanathapuram119
Salem258
Sivaganga46
Tenkasi103
The Nilgiris17
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Tirunelveli433
Tirupathur45
Tiruvannamalai496
Tuticorin333
Villupuram509
Krishnagiri43

314520 5871

52929 119

256313 5633

5278 119

DistrictCases
Kannur357
Kottayam73
Alappuzha76
Idukki40
Kasaragod333
Kollam118
Kozhikode90
Malappuram119
Palakkad224
Pathanamthitta98
Thiruvananthapuram104
Thrissur106
Ernakulam60
Wayanad36

38144 1212

13096 326

24922 880

126 6

DistrictCases
Raipur46
Korba100
Balod41
Baloda Bazar85
Balrampur17
Bastar2
Bemetara21
Bijapur2
Bilaspur100
Dantewada0
Dhamtari6
Durg31
Gariyaband10
Janjgir-Champa56
Jashpur77
Kabirdham52
Kanker19
Kondagaon0
Korea39
Mahasamund54
Mungeli87
Narayanpur0
Raigarh47
Rajnandgaon52
Sukma0
Surajpur9
Surguja14

13498 569

3881 295

9508 269

109 5

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2475
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Vikarabad40
Warangal Urban32
Adilabad22
Jagitial77
Jangoan8
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Kamareddy11
Karimnagar17
Khammam26
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Mahabubnagar30
Mancherial43
Medak11
Nalgonda33
Narayanpet3
Nirmal21
Nizamabad76
RajannaSircilla16
Sangareddy26
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Mahabubabad10
Mulugu3
Nagarkurnool8
Peddapalli5
Siddipet7
Wanaparthy1
Warangal Rural4
YadadriBhuvanagiri40

86475 1931

22736 140

63074 1780

665 11

DistrictCases
Baleshwar190
Bhadrak137
Jajapur322
Dhenkanal36
Kalahandi33
Kendrapara164
Khordha238
Koraput16
Sundargarh102
Anugul26
Balangir129
Bargarh16
Boudh34
Cuttack155
Deogarh33
Gajapati61
Ganjam581
Jagatsinghapur91
Jharsuguda8
Kandhamal28
Kendujhar34
Malkangiri20
Mayurbhanj73
Nabarangpur2
Nayagarh86
Nuapada69
Puri103
Rayagada2
Sambalpur16
Sonepur29

50672 1876

13888 194

36479 1673

305 9

DistrictCases
Barwani60
Bhopal1880
Dewas140
Dhar132
East Nimar266
Gwalior211
Indore3839
Jabalpur276
Ujjain799
Agar Malwa15
Alirajpur3
Betul35
Burhanpur351
Chhindwara16
Dindori29
Harda4
Hoshangabad37
Khargone196
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Raisen71
Ratlam51
Sagar228
Shajapur39
Shandol14
Sheopur26
Tikamgarh18
Vidisha37
Anuppur22
Ashoknagar13
Balaghat9
Bhind87
Chhatarpur35
Damoh26
Datia12
Guna8
Jhabua14
Katni3
Mandla15
Narsinghpur17
Neemuch319
Niwari0
Panna20
Rajgarh31
Rewa39
Satna24
Sehore12
Seoni2
Shivpuri15
Sidhi17
Singrauli13
Umaria10

41604 870

9317 212

31239 643

1048 15

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17125
Anand107
Arvalli134
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Gandhinagar410
PanchMahals107
Surat2311
Vadodara1555
Bharuch56
Botad55
Chhotaudepur37
Dang5
Dohad43
GirSomnath45
Jamnagar63
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Mahesana159
Mahisagar125
Narmada25
Naysari35
Patan105
Rajkot135
SabarKantha101
Surendranagar55
Tapi6
Valsad47
Amreli16
DevbhumiDwarka22
Junagadh31
Morbi4
Porbandar11

74318 1155

14184 160

57421 977

2713 18

DistrictCases
Ajmer379
Banswara91
Bharatpur563
Jaipur2177
Jhalawar329
Jodhpur1748
Kota503
Nagaur500
Alwar90
Barmer34
Bhilwara250
Bikaner112
Chittorgarh188
Churu81
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Dungarpur374
Hanumangarh31
Jaisalmer53
Jhunjhunu64
Karauli17
Pali352
Rajsamand140
SawaiMadhopur26
Sikar231
Tonk171
Udaipur724
Baran59
Bundi5
Ganganagar8
Jalore164
Pratapgarh14
Sirohi130

56100 1213

13630

41648 1249

822 11

DistrictCases
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Ambala93
Bhiwani60
CharkiDadri43
Fatehabad38
Gurugram2950
Hisar98
Jhajjar114
Jind38
Kaithal48
Karnal104
Kurukshetra55
Nuh68
Palwal120
Panchkula39
Panipat78
Rohtak145
Sirsa50
Yamunanagar19
Mahendragarh47
Rewari56

44024 797

6827 182

36694 612

503 3

DistrictCases
Agra933
Aligarh215
Amroha80
Bareilly17
Bijnor157
Bulandshahr166
Firozabad190
Gautam Buddha Nagar1119
Kanpur Nagar286
Lucknow386
Mathura129
Meerut504
Moradabad252
Muzaffarnagar117
Rae Bareli78
Rampur203
Saharanpur298
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Varanasi243
Auraiya37
Ayodhya120
Azamgarh138
Baghpat68
Bahraich73
Balrampur49
Banda27
Basti214
Bhadohi60
Budaun23
Etah52
Etawah46
Ghaziabad794
Ghazipur159
Gonda59
Gorakhpur166
Hapur225
Hardoi49
Jalaun41
Jaunpur194
Jhansi41
Kannauj69
Kasganj16
Kaushambi6
Mainpuri46
Mau48
Mirzapur22
Pilibhit15
Pratapgarh15
Prayagraj30
Sambhal116
Shamli40
Shravasti23
Sitapur32
Sultanpur97
Unnao42
Ambedkar Nagar92
Amethi206
Ballia60
Barabanki168
Chandauli38
Chitrakoot4
Deoria143
Farrukhabad36
Fatehpur3
Hamirpur3
Hathras43
Kanpur Dehat4
Kheri72
Kushi Nagar67
Lalitpur3
Maharajganj85
Mahoba3
Shahjahanpur25
Siddharth Nagar159
Sonbhadra10

136238 4475

49347 349

84661 4072

2230 54

DistrictCases
Central4817
East2472
New Delhi3405
North3059
North East1914
North West5463
Shahdara1580
South2329
South East2446
South West2391
West4768

148504 1113

10946 78

133405 1021

4153 14

DistrictCases
Dhubri30
Goalpara19
Marigaon50
Baksa14
Barpeta28
Biswanath16
Bongaigaon12
Cachar80
Charaideo29
Chirang6
Darrang20
Dhemaji47
Dibrugarh61
Dima Hasao86
Golaghat203
Hailakandi57
Hojai89
Jorhat24
Kamrup42
Kamrup Metro276
KarbiAnglong13
Karimganj85
Kokrajhar37
Lakhimpur57
Majuli2
Nagaon143
Nalbari23
Sivasagar20
Sonitpur27
South SalmaraMancachar4
Tinsukia84
Udalguri28
West KarbiAnglong5

68999 4593

21629 2451

47209 2136

161 6

DistrictCases
East District3
North District0
South District3
West District0

930 17

379 1

550 16

1

DistrictCases
Buxar134
Gaya115
Munger188
Patna279
Rohtas256
Arwal52
Aurangabad75
Banka134
Begusarai243
Bhagalpur266
Bhojpur103
Darbhanga143
Gopalganj123
Jehanabad178
Kaimur (bhabua)105
Lakhisarai72
Madhepura82
Madhubani199
Nalanda123
Nawada122
PurbiChamparan138
Purnia135
Saran101
Siwan139
Vaishali87
Araria68
Jamui47
Katihar175
Khagaria253
Kishanganj75
Muzaffarpur96
Pashchim Champaran57
Saharsa88
Samastipur139
Sheikhpura118
Sheohar20
Sitamarhi73
Supaul87

90321 3908

30119 828

59786 3077

416 3

DistrictCases
24 Paraganas North1031
24 Paraganas South281
Darjeeling97
Howrah1435
Jalpaiguri88
Kalimpong18
Kolkata2777
Maldah235
Medinipur East153
Medinipur West159
Hooghly604
Murshidabad125
Nadia139
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purba Bardhaman130
Alipurduar39
Bankura116
Birbhum206
Coochbehar210
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Dinajpur Uttar216
Jhargram9
Purulia66

104326 2936

26003 157

76120 2725

2203 54

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

1900 136

1050 56

829 80

21

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Karaikal2
Mahe4
Yanam0

6381 481

2609 332

3676 144

96 5

DistrictCases
Anjaw0
Changlang31
Dibang Valley0
East Kameng0
East Siang1
Kamle0
KraDaadi0
KurungKumey0
Leparada0
Lohit3
Longding0
Lower Dibang Valley0
Lower Siang0
Lower Subansiri0
Namsai2
PakkeKessang1
Papum Pare8
Shi Yomi0
Siang0
Tawang1
Tirap0
Upper Siang1
Upper Subansiri0
West Kameng0
West Siang1

2430 103

768 78

1659 25

3

DistrictCases
Dimapur20
Kiphire3
Kohima7
Longleng0
Mokokchung0
Mon8
Peren2
Phek1
Tuensang3
Wokha0
Zunheboto0

3118 87

1997

1113 122

8

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

1696 43

446 4

1248 39

2

DistrictCases
Ranchi148
Bokaro16
Deoghar5
Dhanbad32
Garhwa80
Giridih19
Hazaribagh110
Jamtara2
Koderma58
Simdega48
Chatra1
Dumka5
East Singhbum170
Godda2
Gumla28
Khunti10
Latehar14
Lohardaga8
Pakur4
Palamu27
Ramgarh75
Sahebganj0
SaraikelaKharsawan20
West Singhbhum21

19743 518

8731 73

10815 440

197 5

DistrictCases
Gomati74
North Tripura14
Dhalai196
Khowai24
Sepahijala174
South Tripura53
Unakoti49
West Tripura45

6603 121

1647 46

4912 74

44 1

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

1811 41

528 22

1274 19

9

DistrictCases
Anantnag395
Bandipora175
Shopian255
Srinagar300
Baramulla271
Budgam110
Ganderbal37
Jammu138
Kathua53
Kulgam295
Kupwara231
Rajouri39
Ramban151
Reasi26
Samba25
Udhampur155
Mirpur0
Muzaffarabad0
Doda27
Kishtwar10
Poonch35
Pulwama108

26413 482

7392

18523 544

498 8

DistrictCases
Chamba29
Hamirpur117
Kangra105
Sirmaur11
Solan32
Una41
Bilaspur21
Kinnaur2
Kullu4
Lahaul And Spiti0
Mandi21
Shimla10

3636 139

1256 50

2362 89

18

DistrictCases
Jalandhar297
Ludhiana293
Patiala132
Amritsar485
Barnala25
Faridkot74
Firozepur50
Gurdaspur154
Hoshiarpur140
Kapurthala44
Mansa31
Moga65
Pathankot86
S.A.S Nagar137
Sangrur107
Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr)99
Sri Muktsar Sahib71
Tarn Taran163
Bathinda60
Fatehgarh Sahib57
Fazilka53
Rupnagar (Ropar)74

26909 1020

9022 559

17212 422

675 39

DistrictCases
Haridwar94
Dehradun370
Nainital323
Almora71
Bageshwar31
Chamoli36
Champawat45
PauriGarhwal36
Pithoragarh43
Rudraprayag30
Tehri Garhwal110
Udam Singh Nagar83
Uttar Kashi24

10886 454

4059 233

6687 217

140 4

DistrictCases
Bishnupur7
Chandel5
Churachandpur32
Imphal East10
Imphal West21
Jiribam3
Kakching2
Kamjong5
Kangpokpi26
Noney1
Pherzawl3
Senapati6
Tamenglong2
Tengnoupal9
Thoubal18
Ukhrul4

3982 41

1739

2231 103

12

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

1751 81

702 73

1023 8

26

DistrictCases
East Khasi Hills22
East Garo Hills0
East Jaintia Hills0
North Garo Hills1
Ribhoi0
South Garo Hills0
South West Garo Hills4
South West Khasi Hills0
West Garo Hills5
West Jaintia Hills1
West Khasi Hills1

1179 43

656 35

517 8

6

DistrictCases
Aizawl10
Champhai0
Hnahthial0
Khawzawl0
Kolasib11
Lawngtlai2
Lunglei2
Mamit8
Saiha0
Saitual1
Serchhip0

649 1

319

330 7

0

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

0

0

0

0