Author and prominent social historian Ramachandra Guha said that one cannot compare the contribution of Ambedkar to the politics of Thackeray though both of them claimed to have championed the cause of a large section of people in Maharashtra and beyond.
Speaking to CNN-IBN on the subject of his new book Patriots and Partisans: From Nehru to Hindutva and Beyond, he said, "Is there a single school or college of high quality that the Shivsena has created for its young men? Even if the sentiment behind them is legitimate how is it articulated and how is it taken forward?"
Drawing parallels with Ambedkar, he said, "Compare it to Ambedkar’s path for oppressed Dalits – educate and organize and Thackeray’s part for organising Maharashtrians – which is to beat up the outsider."
According to him, the reason why Bal Thackeray prospered was because there was a groundswell of public opinion in his favour that he took to a destructive agenda. He said, "Thackeray represented in part a groundswell of anger from lower and middle class Maharashtrians as the most prestigious and lucrative jobs were going to outsiders." He cashed in on this sense of discrimination and anger, instead of channelizing in a positive manner or investing in high quality education, he added.
Ram Guha, however, observed that a wealth of support for Hindutva philosophy came from young, educated, well-travelled and affluent Indians. In fact, one of the key issues in the book that he describes are hate mails from Hindu right wing supporters who accuse him of being anti-Hindu.
He said, "They (the supporters) are largely young, almost all of them upper caste, many of them live abroad and virtually without exception they are male. I don’t get hateful mails from women – so we have to understand what is it that young men are angry about."
According to Guha, these people are growing in numbers and they are also polarising opinions at every stage. Most of these people were young and he said it surprised him that they had such "venom and anger for someone you have never met, for myself and for other writers in the press and express it in such a vigorous, visceral, hateful way"?
He asked, "These people have so much suppressed anger and the paradox is that out of so much anger and hate you think you are going to create a prosperous and harmonious India?"