The war over Mumbai and Marathis is a political gimmick. It is a fight between cousins for political supremacy — none of them has any concern for the Marathi manoos or Marathi language. By invoking the Marathi sentiment, Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena want to capture political power. The media, too, are responsible for the day-to-day bickering. Why should Bal Thackeray’s comments in the Sena mouthpiece become headlines in other newspapers and on television news channels? The government should take stringent action against Saamna for publishing articles and editorials that propagate hatred and whip up linguistic feelings.
How can we feel outraged at discrimination against Indians in the West when we in our own country practise it on the basis of caste, religion and region? The Sena’s tirade against north Indians is a case in point. A person who wants to drive a taxi in Mumbai should communicate in Marathi, and every one who says Mumbai belongs to all Indians or supports Pakistanis — Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani, Shah Rukh Khan — is a villain. All these people have contributed something to the country. What have the Shiv Sena and the MNS done except playing dirty politics and dividing people?
The image of the largest democracy is at stake. I am proud that actor Shah Rukh Khan has refused to be cowed down by a handful of self-styled patriots who have nothing other than divisive politics to contribute to the nation. It is the duty of the Maharashtra government and the Centre to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand. Mumbai’s spirit should not be endangered by vested interests.
It is not the Thackerays who are responsible for the ‘goonda raj.’ It is the naïve people who can easily be manoeuvred and influenced who are to blame. The Marathis are known for their sense of inclusiveness and egalitarianism.
There will still be light at the end of the tunnel, if the supporters of the Thackerays shun their parochial views and identify themselves as Indians first.
It is unfortunate that our political system offers scope for challenging even the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. That a 60-year-old republic has failed to foster national integration among youth is a shame. I still remember the important role played by the National Integration Council in the 1970s. The government should revive national integration activities and promote public participation, especially by rural youth. We cannot allow regional forces to hijack national integration.
C.J. Shah Jahan,
Uddhav’s remark that the ‘Mumbai for all’ statement is intended to divide Maharashtra is condemnable. The Sena stands weakened and has been rejected by all right-thinking people of Maharashtra. In order to remain in the limelight and gain lost ground, the party has taken recourse to the ‘Mumbai-for-Marathis’ slogan. Even during the regime of kings, the people of India enjoyed the freedom to move across the country without fear. Thousands of Saurashtrians came to Tamil Nadu centuries ago and settled there. So did Maharashtrians. Today, they are naturalised Tamilians. If Uddhav is a true Indian, he should stop creating unrest in the city he lives in. But for the north Indian workers, many of whom are dabbawallahs, millions of Mumbaikars will go without home-made lunch.
All those promoting a chauvinistic agenda should remember that their narrow-minded ideas will bring them only a few minutes of fame. But in the long-run, people will understand that programmes based on parochial thinking do not help them to overcome hunger or solve their day-to-day issues. One cannot fool all the people all the time.
I am at a loss to understand why the Sena is so obsessed with Mumbai. The British started their financial dealings from the erstwhile Bombay and the city became a financial hub. Is the Sena unduly concerned over Mumbai because it is rich and famous? Why is it not displaying an equal interest in other regions of Maharashtra? When Mumbai came under attack on 26/11, did the Shiv Sainiks volunteer to help or protect the public or the Marathis?