They are first cousins twice over, but have had widely divergent political trajectories. One, an abrasive, fire-breathing demagogue, was seen as his uncle’s political heir whose behavioural traits he cultivated. The other, an introvert, is at his best when plotting strategies on the drawing board rather than the rough-and-tumble of street-corner politics that his party is known for in India’s financial capital.
Starting out as brothers-in-arms, they had a bitter falling out over inheriting the party mantle. The younger cousin branched out on his own, hijacked the populist, ethno-centric plank of his parent party, putting his cousin-turned-political foe on the defensive. A series of miscalculations later, the boot seems to be on the other foot. The elder cousin has managed to keep his flock together and cemented his position as his late father Bal Thackeray’s political heir, while the other, one of the most popular crowd-pullers in Maharashtra, is itching for an electoral comeback.
The Cousins Thackeray evaluates the political careers of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. It also examines questions about identity politics, and the social, cultural and economic matrix that catalysed the formation of the Shiv Sena and the MNS from it. Above all, it is a look at what makes the Thackeray cousins so integral to the politics of India, Maharashtra and Mumbai.