Celebrities in Maharashtra at the receiving end of Shiv Sena’s heat

Mumbai: Actors and celebrities in Maharashtra have been at the receiving end of the Shiv Sena and the Thackeray family whenever the red lines were crossed. Wednesday’s incident of the BMC demolishing actor Kangana’s office is just another such case. Everyone from Sachin Tendulkar to Amitabh Bachchan have faced such heat in the past. In 2009, for instance, the Shiv Sena was livid when Tendulkar told reporters that, “Mumbai is for all, I am a Maharashtrian and I am proud of it. However, I am also an Indian.” The fact that Tendulkar’s remarks came at a time when the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were touting the ‘son of the soil’ policy irritated both the outfits.

Since Raj Thackeray’s equations with Sachin Tendulkar were good, the MNS did not react. But, the Sena went hammer and tongs and wanted to know what Tendulkar’s contributions to Maharashtra was. Tendulkar did not give an apology. So, when the cricketer sought extra floor space index (FSI) to build a swimming pool in his new built bungalow, the Sena-controlled BMC did not agree despite several political parties arguing on Tendulkar’s behalf. In 2011, when Tendulkar occupied his newly-constructed bungalow in Bandra, he was fined by the BMC for not having an ‘Occupation Certificate’ (OC).

In another instance in 2017, when a radio jockey sang a song on Mumbai’s potholes, a BMC team came to the RJ’s residence and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 for the mosquito menace at the house. Even Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle have been targeted by the MNS, due to their perceived closeness to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his family. The MNS had once demanded that a flyover be built in Peddar Road and if it is not built, then the party would not let any other flyover be built in the city. Lata Mangeshkar lives in Peddar Road and had opposed the proposed flyover as it would pass by her home.

Actor Amitabh Bachchan was targetted by the MNS for speaking paens about Uttar Pradesh. He came under fire as he was considered close to Uddhav Thackeray and family. In another case, when Salman Khan spoke to a Pakistani news channel that the 26/11 terror attack was hyped because ‘elite people died’, the Sena called it ‘anti-national’. The Sena’s attack was not surprising considering that Raj Thackeray is known to be close to Salim Khan, Salman Khan’s father. Interestingly, Raj Thackeray had supported Salman’s statement then. The influence of the Thackeray family in the BMC and the government has been so strong that people tried not to step on their toes.

When actor turned politician, Sunil Dutt’s son Sanjay Dutt was arrested for possessing an AK-56 rifle (procured from the Dawood gang), he was arrested by the Mumbai Police. The Congress politician met Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray as the Sena-BJP government was in power then. Sanjay Dutt was released later on bail although the BJP and Sena were targeting Sanjay Dutt for possessing the gun. Dutt senior apparently gave a promise that he won’t contest the Lok Sabha polls against the Sena candidate from Bandra. He kept his promise for two terms.

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