The first image that Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) conjures in our minds, is that of their cadres burning Valentine's Day cards, smashing display windows of shops with Valentine's Day decorations. The Senas have long been Mumbai and Maharashtra's equivalent of the anti-Valentine.
However, this year, both the parties are singing an unfamiliar tune. While the MNS has decided to set up a selfie point in Mumbai and decided to decorate it with heart shaped balloons for couples to take pictures, Shiv Sena had decided to dump their anti-Valentine's Day movement.
According to reports, the softening of stance comes ahead of the BMC polls scheduled to take place in February next year.
Even last year, Shiv Sena had harassed couples in places like Nagpur.
Though MNS has said that they will be using the day to express their love for Mumbai and Marathi culture, it is clear that they are out to woo the youngsters. And the compulsion to reach out to the youth, clearly, has come from the activities of none other than the Shiv Sena.
Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray, popular with Bollywood celebrities and frequently seen in high profile social events rubbing shoulders with the rich and the glamorous of the city, has made it very evident that he has a different vision for the party. Yuva Sena is the youth wing of Shiv Sena led by Aditya's father Uddhav Thackeray.
In fact, last year, when some Shiv Sena goons went on a rampage during Valentine's Day, reports suggest, Yuva Sena had expressed displeasure at their activities.
A senior party member told DNA, "If youngsters want to celebrate the festival, it is not a good idea to oppose it. The party had to soften its stand to keep a large section of voters happy. Ever since Aadityaji took over, we have stopped attacking couples. We have moved on, and, in fact, it is Aadityaji who is batting to revive the city's nightlife."
MNS even plans to have a theme - Marathi poet Mangesh Padgaonkar's lines 'Shatada Prem Karave' (Keep loving always) - mark Valentine's Day.
People familiar with the parties' hooliganism around this time of the year, is most likely to react with shock and suspicion.
And it's not just the Sena, the Bajrang Dal too has decided to pipe down on the Valentine's Day issue. They, however, have nothing great or tasteful to say about young couples. According to a report on The Indian Express, Bajrang Dal's UP convenor Surendra Mishra said that what the couples indulge in is 'similar to nature of animals', hence, beneath the outfit to protest.
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