The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS’s) posturing over the release of Karan Johar’s movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was par for the course. MNS has deployed threats of violence often in the past. But for Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to sign off on MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s extortionary demands of filmmakers is, in many ways, worse than MNS’s hooliganism. By first playing dealmaker instead of drawing a line in the sand, and then giving the state’s imprimatur to Thackeray’s demand for what is essentially protection money, Fadnavis has compromised his office.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and alliance partner Shiv Sena at odds, and Mumbai municipal corporation polls coming up, BJP is perhaps using its alliance partner’s rival to undercut it. This would not be the first time a mainstream party has used a nativist party for electoral advantage in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena itself has played the latter role in the past. If that is the case, BJP has allowed political expediency to trump basic governance principles.