My Dear Aditya,

Since this seems to be the season of open letters, I thought I'd write one to you too. Especially since we went to the same college: as a fellow Xavierite, I feel we share a bond, and as a senior alumni, might even dare to offer some advise. This morning when I woke up, I was feeling bright and cheery: October's bracing weather can do that to you in Delhi. And then, I returned home and switched on the TV only to plunge back into depression. The screaming breaking news was that Sudheendra Kulkarni, former Bharatiya Janata Party national executive member and a former aide to both LK Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee, had been attacked with black ink. His crime? He had organised a discussion in Mumbai on former Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri's book. The Shiv Sena we were told was angry with the presence of a Pakistani on Indian soil and wanted to register their protest. So, ink had to be spilled on the streets of Mumbai yet again. Last week Ghulam Ali, this week Kasuri: the Sena is back in the news.

I must confess that much like the Sena is angry with the invite to Kasuri, I am angry with the Sena, although I am not surprised. After all, Kulkarni is not the first public figure you have attacked, he probably won't be the last. Many years ago, when you were probably just a year old, the Sena had dug up a cricket pitch at the Wankhede stadium to protest an Indo-Pakistan cricket series. When I wrote an article against the Sena, there was a protest outside the Times of India building against me. I was lucky: I escaped unhurt. My senior colleague Nikhil Wagle who edited a Marathi eveninger was less fortunate: his office was broken into and he was physically attacked. Then, your grandfather Balasaheb was the supremo, now you and your father seek the mantle.

So, I guess some things won't change.  The difference is that then you were in opposition, now you are in government. In government, you are supposed to be the guardians of the law, not law breakers. You have every right to feel strongly about Pak-based terror. You have every right to dislike Kasuri. But if you don't like him or Pakistan, or his book, don't read it, boycott the function, wear a black band. Ditto with a Ghulam Ali. But what gives you or the Sena's goons the right to physically attack the organisers or force the government to call off a concert? By the way, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised full protection for the book release function. Good for him. But I ask him, and the Maharashtra police: if you were so committed to securing the function, how did you allow Kulkarni to be a soft target? Or does this suit everyone involved: you get mileage, the Maharashtra government pretends to act tough and Kasuri's book too will now sell more because of your foolish act. As for my letter : I guess it will probably be thrown into the dustbin of a bloody and violent history.

Post-script: This morning when I tweeted and called it the shame of Maharashtra, I was warned by “patriotic” Indians to think about the widows of soldiers who had lost their lives fighting the Pakistanis. I share their anguish: but please tell me is throwing black ink and running away an act of patriotism to be proud of, or one of cowardice? And if Maharashtra's asmita has to be defended, maybe Sainiks should go to Marathwada and help farm widows in distress? Or is that not the kind of front page news your party seeks?

Read Aditya Thackeray's response to Rajdeep Sardesai's letter here.