The Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray’s direction to Sachin Tendulkar to stick to cricket and stay off politics for saying he is an Indian first and Mumbai is for all Indians is regrettable. If anything, one should feel happy and proud of Sachin. Mr. Thackeray’s argument that Sachin was not even born when the Marathi people fought for Mumbai and is, therefore, not competent to express his views is unacceptable.

Many present-day citizens were not born when India got Independence. Does it mean they have no right to express their views about the fruits of the freedom struggle? Whipping up regional sentiments for political mileage should be condemned in the harshest terms.

S.R. Krishnamurthy,

Thanjavur

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That Sachin’s remark has provoked the Sena chief into bombarding him with words and advice to stay off politics is unfortunate.

Sachin is a global figure while Mr. Thackeray is known only to a few people in Maharashtra and outside. The Centre should ban parties such as the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena which pose a threat to unity and integrity.

V. Sundaresan,

Hyderabad

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No civilised society can put up with the kind of behaviour exhibited by Bal Thackeray, Raj Thackeray and the like. They attack students who attend recruitment examinations, bully a legislator for taking the oath in the national language and what not. The Shiv Sena leader has now taken on an Indian icon.

It is time leaders promoting divisive forces were told in no uncertain terms that India is one country and any attempt to divide it will be met with zero tolerance.

P.A. Shakeel Mohammed,

Alwaye

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On completing 20 years in his international cricketing career, Sachin jubilantly said he was proud to be a Maharashtrian but was an Indian first. One wonders what is wrong with his remark. The Maharashtra Assembly witnessed unruly scenes only a few days ago because an MLA took the oath in Hindi.

Would Mr. Thackeray approve if Maharashtrians in other States are not allowed to exercise their freedom of speech?

N.V. Rama Rao,

Visakhapatnam

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Sachin’s remark came straight from his heart. He symbolises the aspirations of all those who are proud to be Indians first. For Mr. Thackeray to attack him with such virulent and vicious statements, obviously in a bid to score ‘brownie points’ over his equally erratic nephew, should be vehemently condemned by all patriotic Indians in the strongest terms.

The outrage his remark has triggered across the political divide should convince him that his words no longer inspire anyone, least of all the ‘Marathi Manus.’

Col. Rakesh Chander,

New Delhi

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The Sena chief’s ‘play cricket, not politics’ statement is regrettable. Mr. Thackeray should think of the Maharashtrians living outside the State before claiming that Mumbai belongs to Maharashtra first.

This is not the time to create communal or regional tensions. We should look at laying a firm foundation for the future generations and Sachin Tendulkar is one person who can be held out as a role-model to the youngsters.

S. Padmashree,

Bangalore

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Icons like Sachin can unite India which is diverse in culture, language, and religion. What he said is absolutely right. Every Indian has the right to say that the vast country is close to his or her heart and has the right to talk about, travel to, and stay in any part of India.

S.B. Sivasubramaniyan,

Chennai

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For millions of Indians, the Shiv Sena is known more for its nuisance value and little else, whereas Sachin was, is and will remain a beacon of hope, the quintessence of sporting brilliance and grace under pressure.

Harisankar Kurup,

Secunderabad

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It is not fair on the part of anyone to claim that Maharashtrians have the first right over Mumbai. Any part of India in which we live belongs to all of us.

Anil Kumar Balla,

Visakhapatnam

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Mr. Thackeray has politicised Sachin’s remark. He is trying to isolate Maharashtra from the rest of India and inciting parochialism. Leaders should lead, not mislead.

S.K. Mahenthran,

Chennai

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Besides being the capital of Maharashtra, Mumbai is the financial capital of India. People belonging to every State have contributed to the city’s development.

Anand Kumar Singh,

Patna

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If Sachin, a sportsperson beyond compare, can be challenged and derided for speaking in the highest traditions of citizenship, one wonders what kind of treatment a common man will receive from the Shiv Sena if he dares to express himself.

R.G. Prasad,

Chennai

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Mr. Thackeray’s pointed remark to Sachin “you have been run out from the pitch of the Marathi heart,” is unfortunate. The seed of regionalism was sown when the country was divided on the basis of religion. The reorganisation of States on the basis of language was another big mistake. Blind affinity to language has spread like cancer. Self-realisation alone can mitigate the damage.

R.K. Murthy,

Coimbatore

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It is distressing to note that Mr. Thackeray has once again whipped up regional chauvinism, this time by coming down heavily on Sachin, a national hero, to get political mileage and take the wind out of the sails of the MNS ship.

T.K. Abdul Nazer,

Kozhikode

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By saying Mumbai is for all Indians, Sachin has incurred the wrath of the parochial and chauvinistic Sena. But all right-thinking people of India congratulate him on his bold stance against linguistic fanaticism.

K. Chellayan Nadar,

Thiruvananthapuram

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Where is India heading? It was Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte and Hemant Karkare — who sacrificed their lives for the country — and not leaders who seek to dilute the concept of India as a nation, who are true Marathis. The tendency among leaders to remain in the limelight by making controversial statements is on the rise.

D. Narasa Raju,

Visakhapatnam

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I wonder how Mr. Thackeray will identify himself when he travels to a foreign country — as an Indian or a Maharashtrian.

I wonder what he has entered under the nationality column in his passport. Does he think Maharashtra is part of India or vice versa?

Vaikom Madhu,

Kottayam

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Is or is not Bal Thackeray an Indian? Maharashtra is part of the Indian Union, not an independent State. Maharashtrians, like Punjabis, Biharis, Bengalis and others, are Indians first. Bal Thackeray is not a national leader. He is a regional leader of a section of Maharashtrians.

Otherwise, his party would have been ruling the State. Talking, writing, and inciting people against the nation are criminal acts and cannot be treated mildly. If not curbed in time, such actions will spread to other States leading to the disintegration of the nation.

Lt. Col. A.P.E. Kutty (retd.),

Aluva

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Mr. Thackeray’s diatribe against Sachin is a desperate attempt to salvage his party’s sagging image. I am sure that as a keen follower of cricket, he would not have forgotten that there was a time when most players of the cricket team were from Maharashtra. It was still called the Indian team.

S.V.N. Shastri,

Chennai

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Where were Mr. Thackeray’s men when Mumbai was attacked last year? It was the Indian army that rescued the city from the clutches of deadly terrorists, not the Shiv Sena which is so hurt by a patriotic remark of a great cricketer.

G. Venkatakuppuswamy,

Bangalore

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