The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently

Updated: October 25, 2011 15:08 IST

The Thackerays of Mumbai make news. Mostly with what they say. Bal Thackeray turned controversial utterances into a fine art and son Uddhav and nephew Raj have carried forward the tradition.

The typical Thackeray utterance is disruptive, designed for shock value and shows little consideration for public safety, communal harmony or personal dignity. With their comments the Thackerays often instigate violence and claim responsibility for attacks on people and places. Respect for public property is scant. Wars within the family have seen an ugly one-up-manship in their shrill attempts to hijack the "Mumbai for Marathis" agenda, much to the discomfort and displeasure of other well-known Mumbaikars.

All of this is aimed at making headlines. Over the years, there have been so many such statements that the headlines have shrunk in size and display.

On Monday, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray threatened to physically attack Sanjay Nirupam, a Congress leader who was once a prominent Shiv Sena member given to many controversial statements of his own. Mr Nirupam, while addressing a public rally in Nagpur, said "North Indians could bring Mumbai to a halt if they chose to."

"I dare Nirupam to carry out his threat... If he tries to disrupt activities in Mumbai I will break his teeth," Uddhav Thackeray told reporters.

Were these the most shocking words uttered by a Thackeray in public? Let's take a quick look at the 10 most controversial things that the Thackerays have said in the recent past.

The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
The Thackerays of Mumbai make news. Mostly with what they say. Bal Thackeray turned controversial utterances into a fine art and son Uddhav and nephew Raj have carried forward the tradition.

The typical Thackeray utterance is disruptive, designed for shock value and shows little consideration for public safety, communal harmony or personal dignity. With their comments the Thackerays often instigate violence and claim responsibility for attacks on people and places. Respect for public property is scant. Wars within the family have seen an ugly one-up-manship in their shrill attempts to hijack the "Mumbai for Marathis" agenda, much to the discomfort and displeasure of other well-known Mumbaikars.

All of this is aimed at making headlines. Over the years, there have been so many such statements that the headlines have shrunk in size and display.

On Monday, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray threatened to physically attack Sanjay Nirupam, a Congress leader who was once a prominent Shiv Sena member given to many controversial statements of his own. Mr Nirupam, while addressing a public rally in Nagpur, said "North Indians could bring Mumbai to a halt if they chose to."

"I dare Nirupam to carry out his threat... If he tries to disrupt activities in Mumbai I will break his teeth," Uddhav Thackeray told reporters.

Were these the most shocking words uttered by a Thackeray in public? Let's take a quick look at the 10 most controversial things that the Thackerays have said in the recent past.
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"Is he the Home Minister of India or of Pakistan? If Chidambaram wants to protect Pakistani players, he should go to Pakistan," said Uddhav Thackeray in February 2010.

Home Minister P Chidambaram's safety assurance to foreign cricketers ahead of the cash-rich Indian Premier League had rubbed the Shiv Sena leader the wrong way. "Let Australian players come to India. Let Pakistani players come to India. Let them play in Mumbai and I will guarantee them full security," Mr Chidambaram had said in response to the Shiv Sena's threat that Australian and Pakistani players would not be allowed to play IPL matches in Mumbai.

The Shiv Sena threat followed a spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia. The Sena also opposed the involvement of Pakistani players in the tournament because of their country's alleged support to terror activities in India.
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"This is not the first time I am travelling by train. I used to take trains during my college days some 25 years ago. But now the crowd is increasing like anything, and the outsiders coming to the city are responsible for this burden on the infrastructure," Raj Thackeray said in January 2010.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader was travelling on a suburban local train after 25 years. It was Raj Thackeray's attempt to mingle with Mumbai's "common man" but ended up as another verbal attack on "immigrants" in the mega city. The statement underscored the Thackerays' contempt for those they call "outsiders".
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"When you hit a four or a six, people appreciate you but the 'Marathi manoos' will not tolerate an infringement of their rights or comments which will hurt them. Don't lose the gains in the cricket field by entering the political arena." Bal Thackeray was unsparing even of India's darling Sachin Tendulkar.

The Shiv Sena chief was reacting, in November 2009, to Tendulkar's comment that Mumbai belongs to every Indian. Angry Tendulkar fans slammed Mr Thackeray. Sachin Tendulkar snubbed the Sena chief saying, "I am an extremely proud Maharashtrian, but an Indian first."
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"Asha Bhonsle has sung many songs in different languages. People in different parts accept these songs as their own. This happened only because she is Marathi," Raj Thackeray said in March 2010, foot firmly in the mouth.

Raj was playing the "Marathi" card at a ceremony felicitating the legendary singer in Pune. The singer was unimpressed. She joined fellow-Mumbaikars Sachin Tendulkar and Mukesh Ambani in saying, "Hindustan belongs to all and people are bound to flock to Mumbai." She added that "no one can snatch away the job of a man who works in the city from morning to evening."
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"New immigrants to the city should be denied entry into the city, while those already staying here should show respect to the Marathi 'manoos' and his culture".

This Raj Thackeray statement came during a verbal duel with Samajwadi Party state president Abu Asim Azmi in 2007. Azmi had stated that he would bring 20,000 people from Uttar Pradesh and distribute "lathis" (sticks) to counter MNS workers. At a press conference, in which only Marathi-speaking journalists were allowed, an unabashed Raj Thackeray continued his tirade against the North Indians. The MNS president demanded respect for the 'Marathi Manoos' and issued a threat, saying that the attack on North Indians in the metropolis would be repeated if their leaders from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar made statements which affected the pride of the Marathi 'manoos'.
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"If she wished to play for India, she should have chosen an Indian life partner... Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn't have beaten for a Pakistani," said the patriarch, Bal Thackeray in April 2010.

India's tennis star Sania Mirza had earned his ire for marrying Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik. Bal Thackeray also said, in a statement universally slammed and scorned at, that the tennis star was not famous for her on-court abilities but for her "tight clothes, fashion and love affairs".
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"Mumbai has been made into a dharamshala. The only way to stop the influx of migrants is to start a permit system to impose curbs on those coming here."

This comment by Bal Thackeray was made in March 2010 after Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan said that "anybody can live in Mumbai". Thackeray, directing his ire at the Maharashtra Governor, wrote in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamna': "Migrants will continue to come to Mumbai is akin to betrayal of Maharashtra."
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"Shah Rukh Khan deserves Nishaan-E-Pakistan," said Bal Thackeray after the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner supported the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL.

Bal Thackeray's comment came after the actor said he would have picked a Pakistani player for the Indian Premier League matches if his team had a slot during a player auction ahead of the third season of the tournament. IPL franchise owners did not bid for Pakistani players during the auction for IPL-3, which snowballed into a major spat between the two countries.
The 10 most controversial things the Thackerays have said recently
"Bollywood does not understand any other language but violence. We had written to the producers (of Wake Up Sid) seven months back, asking them to ensure that they refer to the city as Mumbai. Mumbai is the official name of the city." This was Raj Thackeray again, this time picking on Bollywood.

His party's workers disrupted the screening of the film "Wake Up Sid" in a few Pune and Mumbai theatres in October 2009. Screenings were stopped and chaos reigned at cinema halls because the city was referred to as 'Bombay', instead of Mumbai in the film. Producer Karan Johar had to personally meet Raj Thackeray to apologise for "hurting his sentiments" and explain how the script demanded the usage. The MNS withdrew its protest soon after.

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