November 02, 2008

life in general: update to 'goondaism recycled' post

In my 26 October '08 post I wrote about Raj Thackeray and and how he is using violence to build political capital for himself and his part. Just now, I read a useful insight on the issue by Nikhil Wagle (formerly the editor of Marathi newspaper 'Apla Mahanagar' and now the editor of television news channel IBN Lokmat) who is an editor for whom I have the highest regard (going back to the tension and violence-filled days of 1992 and 1993 when Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and their goons terrorised Muslims in Bombay and tried to brutally supress any one else speaking their mind against their violence). His write-up follows below but there is also a useful historical & current background of the Thackerays-Congress-NCP-politics by IANS.
And here is what Nikhil Wagle has written in the latest (8 Nov '08) issue of Tehelka:
Mumbai’s Secessionist
Raj Thackeray is aping the 1970s politics of the Shiv Sena
Editor, IBN Lokmat
DURING THE last few days, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has dominated Maharashtra politics. The day Raj Thackeray was brought to court, hundreds of buses were burnt, public property damaged and north Indians in Mumbai were attacked by his supporters. The media covered the manner in which Marathi speakers demonstrated solidarity with Raj Thackeray and his secessionist politics. The Marathi intelligentsia, while condemning the violence, in principle agreed with Thackeray’s cause.
The Raj spectacle makes me wonder if anything has really changed during the last 40 years. In the 1970s, it was the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray who were busy playing the politics being aped by Raj Thackeray today. Then, in order to contain the threat posed by communist parties, the Congress actively used Bal Thackeray. Today, the same party is using Raj Thackeray to restrict and divide the Shiv Sena vote. It is ironical that neither the Congress nor its strategy of using the Thackeray family has changed. The Congress is known to feed monsters for its political gains. The sidelining of Marathi speakers and Marathi language in Mumbai still remains an sore point. Instead of removing this pain, the Congress-NCP Government is trying to use it for political gain.
Elections are on the anvil. This time, the Shiv Sena commands power not only in urban, but rural Maharashtra too. The support of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has improved dramatically. The stakes are high. The MNS is a good weapon to divide the Shiv Sena vote, at least in the urban constituencies. Due to reorganisation of constituencies, Mumbai, Pune and Thane districts are going to play a major role in the elections.
It was a sad state to witness the lack of will on the part of the government to punish Raj Thackeray for his violent speeches. He was arrested and brought to Mumbai in a police car like a hero. He entered Mumbai not as an accused, but a king, waving to his supporters. After he got bail in court, the ACP opened the car door for him. The government ensured that he was treated well. He was charged under bailable sections of the IPC. The lack of will on the part of the government to punish him, and the respect of Marathi police officers was obvious.
Raj Thackeray is being supported whole-heartedly by the lower middle class Marathi youth. It is not that everybody is supporting him, but those opposed are silent. Worse is the fate of the leftist intelligentsia in Maharashtra. They are not only cynical, but have not protested.
The feeling of injustice in the Marathi mind needs to be addressed rationally. Mumbai being the financial capital of India, speaks in the language of money. Globalisation discarded the Marathi working class in Mumbai. The service sector driven postindustrial Mumbai prefers cheaper Bihari labour. The feeling in the minds of sons-ofthe- soil is a global phenomenon. Local cultures and languages are threatened by migration. The government, instead of finding solutions to this problem, is letting Raj Thackrey cash-in on this issue.
Solutions are difficult, but not impossible. A threepronged plan could end the violence caused by people like Raj Thackeray. The government should display the willpower to implement law and order. The media should be balanced in its reporting. If people display a strong sense of national integration, the MNS can be contained. My gut feeling says if we all get together, it’s possible.
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 44, Dated Nov 08, 2008

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