The Shiv Sena’s ‘Mumbai for Marathis’ slogan is unacceptable and opposed to the spirit of nationhood. Mumbai has emerged the financial capital of India due to the combined efforts of Mumbaikars hailing from different parts of the country. Completing 60 years of becoming a republic has been a vital achievement for our country. Any attempt to deal a blow to this by forces of regionalism should be dealt with firmly.
The BJP and the RSS have rightly called the Shiv Sena’s bluff. The Sena would do well to remember that Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale were highly respected because of their pan-Indian appeal. They fought for the freedom of India, not Maharashtra. What will happen to our unity and integrity if political parties in all the States start adopting the same attitude as that of the Shiv Sena?
The Sena has, time and again, tried to incite tensions among different communities.
Whether it was by attacking north Indian workers, slapping Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, digging cricket pitches, passing diktats saying all taxi-drivers in Mumbai should speak Marathi, or saying Mumbai is for Marathis, it has reinforced its divisive agenda. Such elements are present in almost all countries but what is disturbing is that the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are mainstream political parties and form part of the largest democracy.
While the politics of the MNS and the Shiv Sena seem similar on the surface, Raj Thackeray has proved to be a more astute politician. He raised issues that found support among working-class Marathis, winning his party a substantial vote share in the Assembly elections. More subtly, he created a sense of desperation in the clueless Shiv Sena leadership, forcing it to make political mistakes like attacking Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan. These two men have solid support, and would have contributed far more to the nation in terms of taxes and goodwill, than the Sena ever has. If such misguided attacks continue, the Shiv Sena will find whatever support base it still has eroding.
The Shiv Sainiks are well aware that the Mumbai-for-Maharashtrians-only slogan has few takers. It is only a ploy to draw attention as they have no issue at hand. Every inch of Mumbai or, for that matter, any State belongs to all Indians. All right-thinking people should condemn the Sena’s crude outburst of provincialism that is prejudicial to the unity and integrity of our nation.
Ujjal K. Pal,
Protesting outside Shah Rukh Khan’s house for supporting the cause of Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League, the Shiv Sainiks are reported to have said that the actor should go to Pakistan if he wants to speak in favour of Pakistani players. Do the Sainiks, who have contributed nothing to the freedom struggle, know that Shah Rukh’s father, Taj Mohammad Mir, was a freedom fighter? He was one of the few Muslims who left their homes in Pakistan and migrated to India in the wake of Partition. Mir was a young public speaker and was arrested by the British during the Quit India movement (he was with me in the Peshawar jail). The marriage of Shah Rukh’s parents was arranged by General Shah Nawaz of the Indian National Army. It is highly unfair on the part of the Shiv Sainiks to launch a tirade against Shah Rukh just because he is a Muslim.