Sixty two years of freedom, liberty and enfranchisement have not done any good for our country, with disintegrating forces out to ruin it. If it was Raj Thackeray who issued an explicit warning to State Bank of India to recruit only Maharashtrians for clerical vacancies in the State, the elder Thackeray has gone to the extent of vilifying a national icon. The nation showers its praise on cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar who expressed pride in being an Indian and claimed that Mumbai belongs to every one of us. The words used by the Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, against him in Saamna — asking Sachin to stick to cricket and dare not tread into the realm of politics — exposes his skewed mindset. It is time the state marginalised such voices, thereby preserving the fabric of unity in diversity.

V. Chandrasekar,

Coimbatore

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The Shiv Sena and the MNS seem to stop at nothing to woo the Marathi-speaking voters. They do not hesitate to speak or do anything that is against the unity and integrity of the nation. To meet their ends, they exploit people’s sentiments. Maharashtra, however, is not the only State where the politics of language or religion is played. It is the same in Uttar Pradesh, where caste is a major electoral issue, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and other States. It is futile to expect our leaders to change their ways. We must make a beginning by casting our votes for the right persons.

Neha Paul,

Patiala

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Regional parties cannot hijack an issue, putting the nation’s pride at stake. Neither the Shiv Sena nor the MNS can claim that they are Maharashtrians first. They should learn to appreciate India’s diverse culture and pluralism.

P. Ramakrishna Rao,

Kothagudem

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When Sachin plays, he plays for India. All his records bear the name of India. He is proud of being an Indian. And by saying so, he has made all Indians proud.

Anto Alex,

Chennai

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What Sachin said about Mumbai — that it belongs to all Indians — is absolutely right. Mr. Thackeray’s remarks are unwarranted. Every Indian is proud of Sachin and Mumbai. Mr. Thackeray is a spent force, desperately playing the regional card.

K.A. Solaman,

Alappuzha

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Mr. Thackeray has the habit of hogging the limelight by making controversial statements. He has done it many times in the past. But what Sachin said is really encouraging and worth emulating. His assertion that he is an Indian first sends a fitting reply to secessionist forces across the country.

Ujjal K. Pal,

Kolkata

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The Shiv Sena’s vituperative attacks on non-Marathis and now against Tendulkar are not unexpected. Its first victims were the ‘Madrasis,’ who were targeted physically and verbally during the early days of the Sena. Now, all non-Marathis have become unwanted. Successive governments and political leaders are to blame for the growth of such a pernicious, chauvinistic mindset.

T.R. Anandan,

Coimbatore

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Sachin need not prove his patriotism or love for Maharashtra to Mr. Thackeray. He has done that many, many times over by his amazing exploits on the cricket field. If it was the British who systematically cultivated social and regional divisiveness, it is the likes of Mr. Thackeray who perpetuate it. Instead of gunning for Sachin, Mr. Thackeray should exhort his Sena to assist in preventing possible terror attacks on Mumbai.

Anil Kumar Kurup,

Tiruppur

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When readers write to the editor on an issue, we find letters supporting and opposing it. But on Mr. Thackeray’s criticism of Sachin, not one person has supported the Sena leader (Letters, Nov. 18), while giving him adequate respect for his age and position as a regional leader. It just shows that we are Indians first — a fact that needs to be cherished.

D. Darwin Albert Raj,

Kancheepuram

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Sachin’s “I am an Indian first” comment and Mr. Thackeray’s response to it have provided enough fodder to politicians and the media to pounce on the latter and brand him parochial. But it is not fair to single out the Sena leader. Do we not have other leaders who promote parochialism? There are separatist elements in Kashmir which openly side with Pakistan. For them Pakistan is first, their faith second and India third. Similar is the case with some other sections. This is not to support Mr. Thackeray. But the self-aggrandised politicians and the TRP-hungry media should refrain from adopting double standards.

T. Suryatmaj,

Mumbai

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