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V-roar whittled down to a whimper

Mumbai, Feb. 13: Love is in the air, and it’s bugging the Shiv Sena no end. But this time, the roar has given way to a whimper.

Sena chief Bal Thackeray, lying low since a series of rebellions rocked his party, today tried to breathe some fire into the campaign with a scathing editorial against Valentine’s Day celebrations in party mouthpiece Saamna, but his sainiks held only token protests on the ground.

With former party leaders Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray clearly indicating that they would no longer oppose Valentine’s Day celebrations, the familiar aggression seems to be missing in the Sena’s war cry.

Yesterday, a handful of party workers burnt greetings cards and gift items displayed at a single stationery shop in Churchgate in south Mumbai.

The protests seemed to gather some steam today, the eve of V-Day, with a group of sainiks raiding a shop in the posh High Street Phoenix as hundreds watched.

However, just as they got to work, damaging a heart-shaped bouquet on display, police arrived and arrested four of them.

The Sena chief attempted to stoke the fire with his pen this morning. The young generation should shun the “influence of western culture” and instead celebrate romance by evoking the memory of legendary Indian lovers like Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha and Bajirao-Mastani, he wrote.

That the Sena fire is slowly dying has been visible for some time.

Last week, some members of the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), the party’s students’ wing, tried to attack the Zee TV office in Lower Parel to stop the telecast of a satirical skit on the Thackeray family.

The skit took a humorous look at the drama over Raj Thackeray’s exit from the Sena and his relationship with his uncle.

Some Sena supporters also attacked the house of the skit’s writer, who lives in Pune.

However, the protests did not stop Zee from beaming the skit, while nine BVS workers landed in the police net.

The Sena tried to minimise the programme’s impact by blocking cable operations in some parts of the city.

Raj Thackeray, the protagonist of the piece, however, watched the programme and said he did not find anything to justify the violent protests of his erstwhile party.

A day later, the Sena chief countered with an editorial supporting the vandalism in Saamna.

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