Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena has recently "recalled that Anna Hazare met him at his Bandra residence on October 4, 1996." He has just written a letter to Hazare mentioning this memory. At that 1996 meeting, wrote Thackeray, the two men "had discussed ways to combat corruption."
Apparently Thackeray also wrote these words in the letter: "You later told reporters that the Sena chief is the only ray of hope and only he can dare crush corruption."
I learned all this from this article in the Economic Times (August 24 2011).
Now if Bal Thackeray is "the only ray of hope", I think that's something worth finding out more about. So I went digging a bit.
In 1996, Thackeray was the self-proclaimed "remote control" behind the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government that had come to power in the state. That year, Anna Hazare went on a fast demanding action against two of the ministers in that government, Shashikant Sutar, minister for agriculture, and Mahadeo Shivankar, minister for irrigation. Hazare claimed they were corrupt.
Naturally nothing happened to these ministers, but that's hardly the interesting thing about this episode.
In response to the fast, a "perturbed Thackeray asked Hazare to first clean his own backyard" of Ralegaon Siddhi.
In response to that, an "agitated Hazare ... was quick to demand the same against Thackeray, targeting his real estate investments."
In response to that, Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav said: "Let anybody investigate our assets. But then there should be an investigation into the assets of everyone making these allegations."
I learned all this from this article in Outlook, issue dated December 11 1996.
Two weeks later, Outlook (i.e. issue dated December 25 1996) carried another article (full disclosure: I'm quoted in it). In it, I learned that "when Hazare sought the resignation of [Sutar and Shivankar] on charges of corruption, [Thackeray] called the much-revered Magsaysay award winner 'mad'".
Hmm. In 1996, Hazare demands an investigation into Thackeray's assets, and Thackeray uses the word "mad" for Hazare. Fifteen years later, those two pronouncements have merged and morphed, according to the Thackerays themselves -- into Hazare saying Thackeray "is the only ray of hope and only he can dare crush corruption."
August 26, 2011
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We have to oppose politicians like Bal Thakare from cashing "the ordinay people" for their vulgar selfishness.
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