Saturday, March 6, 2010

Shiv Sena Vs India

Shiv Senas slogan of Maharashtra only for Marathis, loses charm and results into the party losing grasp over Marathi votes.

While the whole security setup was diverted to tackle the vandalism by Shiv Sena over the film My Name Is Khan, the terrorists managed to strike the Marathi city, Pune. The situation in which the blast took place bears much resemblance to that prevalent before 26/11 when Marathi security officers including Hemant Karkare were killed. Shiv Sena couldn’t save them.

Taking the cause of Marathis is easier said than done. Shiv Sena and its offshoot Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are trying to convey to the Indians that ‘if you are not a Marathi you can go abroad to earn your livelihood or for education but in Maharashtra you will not be welcomed.’

Many mistake Shiv Sena to be the army of Hindu lord Shiva and hence offer their support to the party. It is a misnomer. Shiv Sena is nothing but a political party attributed to the veteran Maratha leader Shivaji and instead of talking about the welfare of all Hindus it has opted for supporting only the cause of the Marathis, apparently viewing political gain. Its offshoot MNS is a blind adherent to this ideology.

Their claim is that Maharashtran soil is only for Marathis. None other than them have any right to reside there or earn a livelihood unless he adopts Marathi culture and speaks Marathi. But even this diktat has its provisions. Foreigners, who are non Marathis, are welcome in Maharashtra. They have a right to live as they like in this land. The irony is that only poor Indians are forced to abide by the diktat of the Senas!

Going one step ahead those who are in the frontline of the anti-non-Marathi movement prefer English, which is a foreign language, when it comes to teach their children. But they compel others to learn Marathi. If a language is to be made compulsory, Hindi should have been given priority. Isn’t it the national language? Of course, a nation will find it next to impossible to protect its culture if it is not attached to the language of its forefathers. Language affects culture and who loses one’s own culture their identity is always threatened. To this extent the stand of both the Senas towards Marathi can be appreciated. They should promote Marathi and be concerned as to what measures can be taken to ensure the language thrives and manages to coexist despite odds. Ironically, the North Indians are asked to learn Marathi but the Marathi medium academic institutions, in Maharashtra, have become a victim of negligence and some of them ceased to exist. Why is this not surprising? No Marathi leader wants his children to study in these schools.
The ideal way, if one wants to promulgate anything, is to show it by example. It does not seem to be the case in this campaign. There is a lack of sincerity in what they are preaching?

The Senas seem to be opportunistic. They stood tall against a Marathi officer Hemant Karkare. He had started unveiling the face of some terrorists who were responsible for killing of scores of Marathis. Sainiks went against Karkare to an extent of threatening him of his life.

But, they were quick to support the non-Marathi Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur! The alleged terrorist Sadhvi is accused of having killed numerous Marathis in Malegaon blasts. Not only Thakur, but also other gang members who killed Marathis in Nanded and Sangli gained support from Shiv Sena. It indicates that “Marathi” is not the only cause.

Actually, Thakur and the other 10 terrorists arrested in this case got support because their goal matched that of the Sena, the politics of hatred.

Due to the regional and religious prejudice exploited jointly by Shiv Sena and MNS, both the non Marathi Hindus and Muslims staying in Maharashtra feel their security threatened. The Hindu from another state is afraid in Mumbai, rather Maharashtra, because tomorrow, the MNS and the Shiv Sena could call him a non-Marathi outsider. The Konkani Muslim may speak fluent Marathi and vote for Raj Thackeray’s MNS, but the Shiv Sena could still go after him because he’s not a Hindu.

The main entity behind all this vandalism is the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who himself is a migrant to Maharashtra. He shifted to Maharashtra in 1955 from Madhya Pradesh.
For gaining power and money, Thackeray formed the political party Shiv Sena in 1966 and unleashed a hatred campaign against Gujaratis, South Indians and then Muslims .(though Thackeray does not have faith in Hindu Bhagwans as he threw out of his house the statues of Hindu god Ganesh when his wife Minatai died).

During the 1992-93 Mumbai communal riots, Thackeray openly inflamed the Hindus to massacre Muslims. In those days, a Muslim would find himself to be a Pakistani if the nonsense allegations of Shiv Sainiks were considered true. This is despite the fact that the Marathi icon Shivaji had a fair number of non-Marathas in his army, even quite a few Muslim soldiers and captains, especially in the cavalry.

The recent spate of attacks by Shiv Sena too was against a Muslim as he condemned the behaviour demonstrated during the IPL-3 auction with the Pakistani players. Shah Rukh Khan was asked to go to Pakistan, as occasionally everyone with a Muslim name is asked to do by communal elements, because Shiv Sainiks said he was a Pakistani. While the reality is that he brought honour to India in the world of celluloid. They had done the same with Amitabh Bachchan, a non-Marathi actor.

There are no limits to nefarious behaviour by the Senas with anyone. The so-called Marathi protagonists had ridiculed the Marathi cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar’s only crime, in their view, was that he did not isolate Maharashtra from India and said that (as every part of India is for all Indians) Mumbai (too) is for every citizen of India. If they were to support Marathi, then why oppose him?

This being their agenda, the Senas have no moral right to stop the Australian cricketers from playing in India. Australia must be condemned as Indian students are being attacked and that too by racists. But, how is it different then what Shiv Sena and MNS are doing with Indians in India?

The reason the Sena and its offshoot MNS give against the non-Marathis is that the uncontrolled influx from Bihar and UP has snatched the jobs of Maharashtrians. But, at the same time they forget that most Biharis and UP-walas are self-employed—driving autos and taxis or working as electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters and doodhwalas. These are jobs nobody stopped locals from taking up.

Serving the cause of only Marathis or fighting for them exclusively is, in fact, not the real aim of the Sainiks. The Marathis owe a great deal to the brave Maratha leader Shivaji, the founder of Maratha State. But he too, sometimes for political gain harmed the Marathis and attacked Maratha regions. Likewise, the so-called Marathi leaders have been exploiting the Marathi issue for nothing but political gains. The MNS activists during the swearing in ceremony had attacked the SP MLA Abu Asim Azmi apparently for not taking oath in Marathi, as dictated by Raj Thackeray, but were they deaf when other BJP and Congress leaders used Hindi or Sanskrit as the language of taking the oath..

If BJP plays a religious card to ascend to power, Shiv Sena and MNS believe in regional chauvinism for political mobilisation. Of course, religious prejudice too finds a well wisher in Sena. When it would spew venom against only a certain religious minority none was there to condemn it, but when regardless of religion the Senas started targeting North Indians everyone was quick to find it wrong. Yet the state government remains reluctant to take action against them.

The Maharashtra government led by Congress-NCP, for some reasons, remains a mere spectator over the activities of MNS. The MNS has the potential to destabilize the Shiv Sena. The government is unwilling to have the Shiv Sainiks involved in the Mumbai riots punished because it will go against the soft-Hindutva policy of Congress.

Much has been said as to why the secular Congress has allowed the Senas and their hoologanism to grow. They, at ease, beat up the North Indians, harass them and damage their shops. But when it was required, for the young Rahul Gandhi, security was beefed up and the Sainiks, who had intended to welcome him in Mumbai with black flags, did not even get a chance to protest.

The point is that if Rahul Gandhi was provided with such a tight security during his short visit, which made a laughing stock of the Shiv Sena in its home state, does not every citizen of India have the right to be protected in Maharashtra as well. This can be achieved, as it has happened in other states, if the government resolves to act in this direction.

Not to be caught on the wrong foot Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan tried to play the Marathi card as well, by announcing that 24,000 taxi licences would only be reissued to those who speak Marathi and have been resident in Maharashtra for 15 years. There are hardly any passengers who communicate in Marathi with the taxi drivers. That the taxi drivers did not face any problem while dealing with the passengers all these years is a witness to this fact.

Besides taxi driving, the North Indians have been playing a crucial role in shaping Mumbai. There are an estimated four million non marathis, out of the total 1.4 crore residents of the city, engaged in 40 large-scale businesses and small trades, from paan shops and milk vending to construction, transport and security services. The Mumbai stock exchange and Bollywood—the city’s two defining commercial institutions that directly and indirectly employ a large proportion of its inhabitants—run chiefly on outsiders’ steam.
Most of the big industrial houses based in Mumbai belong to non-Marathis—Reliance, the Tata group, ACC Cement, the Aditya Birla group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Century Mills, Bombay Dyeing, Piramal, Cipla, Lupin and so on. And the tax amount paid by the non-Marathis, in Mumbai, is manifold that of the Marathis.

Remember those who rushed to rescue Mumbai on 26/11 and the contribution of Marathis will be crystal clear. A common citizen asks why the Sainiks were not there to combat the Pakistani terrorists. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the NSG commando who laid his life in the fight with the terrorists was a Malayali from Bangalore. Of course, many officers, including Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte were Marathis but NSG commandos had representation from North India, UP and Bihar too.

Does this not show the need for the Sainiks to understand that in times of need the same people it tries to demonise are the ones who protect their homes?

The silence of the congress party in this matter is criminal. Unfortunately, the Senas have sometimes, though unconsciously, played in to the hand of Congress-NCP. Bal Thackeray had announced that he would not stop the release of SRK’s film My Name is Khan but after interaction with the NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Thackeray came back to his old stand.

Now that the hooligans have been defeated by the countless fans of SRK and the Mumbai public it will be interesting to see who the next target of their criminal intimidation will be. The distinguishing features of looting and harassment which Senas continually exhibit against the non-Marathis are inherited ones.

The historian Abraham Early in his book “The Last Spring, The Lives and Times of The Great Mughals” writes that “Pillaging raids would remain a primary activity of Shivaji even after he made the transition from warlord to crowned monarch, and they would remain a part of the Maratha political culture well into the nineteenth century. ‘To plunder the enemy is to this day used by Marathas to express their victory, of which it is in their estimation the only real proof,’ says Duff, writing nearly 200 years after Shivaji’s time.” Till this day there is no change in this.

Their way of showing their power is by practicing regional chauvinism against the weak and those who are in a minority. They pose a constant threat not only to the sustenance but also to the life of non marathis.

Talking only for the cause of Marathis is tantamount to separating oneself from the rest of India. Political parties must raise regional issues. But they are expected to avert from politics of regionalism that harms the very unity of pluralistic India.

This kind of ideology must be wiped out of India. It has to be condemned in the strongest terms. The Maoists constitute a threat to India’s internal security as they massacre policemen mercilessly and have no respect for the law of the land. In North-East India, ULFA demands a separate state and runs parallel governments. Organizations, dreaming of a separate Kashmir continue to fight our security forces. All these are terrorists. Of course, they are. But, what stops our government from categorizing the Shiv Sena and MNS among the aforementioned outfits? They want to separate Maharashtra from rest of India. Some years back, the people from South India were terrorized by Shiv Sena and now it is the turn of the North Indians. Is it not a kind of terrorism when law abiding citizens have to live in fear of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena?

The “Senas” are not loyal even to the Marathis. Some days ago, Bal Thackeray after losing a considerable chunk of his Marathi vote bank in the Maharashtra assembly elections, has stated that he not only lost faith in God but in Marathis as well.

Now, when the RSS and BJP have distanced themselves from Shiv Sena expressing resistance over the slogan “Mumbai only for Marathis”, it is high time that rest of the Indians too alienate them from the society. Some may say that the decision of the saffron parties is in view of the upcoming Bihar assembly elections. There is a fear that if BJP continues its support for anti-North Indian campaign in Mumbai, it will have to pay the cost of this in Bihar. Sadly again this change in heart by the saffron brigade is not moral but political.

It is a tragedy of our times that those talking of unity of India are removed while who try to divide it are spared. The man behind the demand for separate Telangana State out of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Rashtra Samiti K. chief Chandrasekhara Rao, is alive and is allowed to get support, and the late Andhra Chief Minister YSR Reddy who opposed to divide Andhra Pradesh is no more among us. The Thackeray clan, Bal or Raj, continue to divide and rule while the country chooses to look the other way.

Shiv Sena Established, Split & Lost
1960: Through cartoons, Bal Thackeray displays Marathis’ helplessness to the South Indian migrants and creates a sense of insecurity among them
1966: He announces the formation of Shiv Sena in a rally held in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park
1969: Thackeray was arrested in the riots erupted in the aftermath of border dispute with Karnataka
1970: Krishna Desai, CPI MLA, is murdered and Shiv Sena is alleged to be behind it
1987: Thackeray sings Hindutva lyrics to win Vile Parle assembly seat. Court cancels election.
1989: BJP-Shiv Sena alliance formed
1995: The alliance comes to power. Thackeray is deprived of franchise over allegation of spreading communalism
1999: Shiv-Sena coalition losses state power to NCP-Congress alliance
2003: Uddhav Thackeray appointed new Shiv Sena chief
2006: Raj Thackeray quits party and forms Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
2009: Shiv Sena Faces humiliating defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha elections
2009: Shiv Sena-BJP alliance continues bad performance in assembly elections and seats reduced to 45, against 62 in 2004

By: A Hameed Yousuf

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