The Raj Thackeray reality show

Satyanarayan Iyer Mumbai | Updated on April 04, 2014

Firebrand Raj Thackeray says the victory of his party is assured

MNS leader’s fiery speech leaves Mumbai mesmerised

A gathering of about 20,000 men and women wait anxiously in one of Mumbai’s satellite towns, as small-time leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena come to the podium to address them.

A little after 8 o’clock on a sultry evening, Raj Thackeray arrives and all hell breaks loose. As if on cue, fireworks go off and last a full three quarters of an hour..

Raju Patil, the party’s candidate from Dombivili-Kalyan and other leaders, spoke, but the crowd did not seem to tune in. After a hard day’s work, they had gathered to listen to the one they consider Maharashtra’s most-charismatic orator — Raj, their showstopper. As Raj gets out of his blue Land Cruiser, the bored crowd erupts in joy.

A popular Marathi movie song dedicated to King Shivaji blares out from the speakers.

Raj is the centre of attraction as he walks on to the dais. Sensing the crowd’s anticipation, the anchor rushed through with his remaining announcements.

Finally, Raj, dressed in a cream kurta-pyjama, took the slightly-raised platform, and the show got on the road. And Raj did not disappoint.

In his classic style, he said, “I launched the campaign two days ago in Pune and there I spoke everything. Every day there is nothing new to speak, so I do not speak often.” “People will also get bored of seeing the same face everyday and hearing the same old things,” he added, and the crowd applauded, as if soaking in every word. Before long, he plunged into the on-going family feud in the Thackeray household and tore into cousin Uddhav for being “two-faced.”

Challenging him to counter his words, he told the crowd, “This question-answer session will continue for the remaining part of the election season.”

When the crowd applauded again, as Raj began narrating a tale from his uncle’s last few days, he stopped them saying, “there is nothing to clap in this,” and the crowd promptly fell silent. And the silence punctuated Raj’s 36-minute fiery speech, where he raised issues such as corruption, crony capitalism and the unjust levy of toll charges in the State.

So stunning was the silence, that at times when he stopped to catch his breath, you could probably have heard a pin drop.

Reminiscent of his uncle Bal Thackeray, Raj mimicked leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal and called Republican Party of India’s chief, Ramdas Athavale, Maharashtra’s Laloo Prasad Yadav, leaving the crowd in splits.

Suddenly, as if a thought just struck him, Raj called out the aspiring candidate and thundered, “Raju, aapli jheenk nishchit aahe. (our victory is assured.)”

The large number of women in the crowd was the basis of his prediction, he said, as he brought the show to an end, endorsing the local MNS candidate.

Published on April 04, 2014

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