Thackeray issue: The onus lies with public

I met a Bangladeshi in Sydney who had been a government servant in his country. During a casual conversation he asked me what was my nationality. I said Indian. He then repeated the question. I repeated the reply. He clarified that he was asking me if I was a Punjabi or a Marathi or Gujarati. I tried to correct him that my nationality is Indian and I belong to …. State. He insisted that is your nationality and not Indian. “You are a citizen of India and your nationality is ….

He went on to say that Bangladeshis have shown to the world how to preserve their nationality. The Punjabis or Marathis or the Gujaratis were too weak at the time of Independence to fight for their ‘nationality.’ Now Hindi is your national language and that has been forced upon you.

Raj Thackeray was no where near me at the time when this conversation was taking place but surely there are some divisive elements or “foreign hand” that have brought the country  to such a point. And, this is just a beginning.

Well, the country has seen some similar movements in the past — Khalistan for example but that was reportedly being religion based conflict. That too failed to break the strong fabric of the country.

In Maharashtra, the objective of the Shiv Sena or its spin off Maharashtra Navnirmaan Sena is to secure more representation for Marathis mainly in jobs or facilities. The objective is fine but the means adopted to achieve this is wrong and have divisive overtones. A clear divide has been created between North Indians and Maharashtrians. The leaders are playing with the sentiments of middle class and lower middle class people.

In 1986, my wife was in Moscow and it was Soviet Union at that time. She could sniff the discontent among the people against the government and we discussed its implications. Six years later, the Soviet Union broke into smaller nations.

Maharashtra should certainly not take a lead into this direction as the divide created between the people is frightening.  

“Public,” said Napolean “is a fickle.” This is exactly what has been happening in Maharashtra today. Shiv Sena and MNS, are making full use of these words of Napolean. In fact, it is politicians of all varieties who indulge in this act to their advantage. It is mainly aforementioned parties that are blindly playing the sectarian politics card on the fickle minds of the public without realizing the consequences. Also, their leaders are taking the country where the British had left it — divided and bruised. But they are unable to gauge the seriousness of the situation they have pushed the nation in — a 1947 like situation.

Gandhiji believed one should eradicate sin and not the sinner. By arresting MNS chief Raj Thackeray the malaise of sectarian politics will not eradicate but on the contrary it will add fuel to the fire. The people have reacted sharply to the arrest not because they understand the issue but the blind pride that their leader has been arrested. The party workers may not have acted in this manner had Thackeray not provoked them to do so. When the news of his arrest warrants reached Mumbai he had openly challenged the police to arrest him and face the consequences. This emboldened the party workers who thought that it to be a directive from their leader and indulged in rioting.

While the Police said that they have made a strong case against Thackeray, within minutes after being produced in court he was granted bail in one of the cases thus making mockery of the measures against the spread of the disease. Whether released or not, Raj Thackeray will emerge a hero from a big Zero. This will not only embolden the leader but also turn the sin more grave.

All the political parties are after the head of Thackeray but no one is thinking of curing the malaise of sectarian politics. The fear of Thackeray should replace the fear of 1947 in the minds of people and political parties alike. The Supreme Court should take cognizance of this fact and take measures to check the spread of this disease and then total eradication.

The answer to all this lies with the valued “common public.” The ball is in its court. Ignore the divisive forces. In a democracy where the people make or break the governments, they can also ignore people like Thackeray

Denial: Earlier, Raj denied his involvement in the rail exams attack case and the court ‘promptly granted’ him bail. But how can the party workers act on their own when their leader did not want them to do so. If that is the case, couldn’t the court or the police trace the calls made from Raj’s mobile or the landline phones or the phones of his associates who were in Ratnagiri with him? This is 21st century when we have so many facilities at our disposal. His Counsel appeared on TV after he procured bail for Raj and looked nervous and gave the impression that he has done something “not right.”

A combative Raj had justified the Sunday’s attack on north Indians and warned the state that it will have to “regret” the consequences in the event of his arrest.

“Arrest me and be ready to bear the consequences…. You will have to regret,” Thackeray, said. “If Raj is arrested, entire Maharashtra will be set on fire,” he threatened. This statement was enough to nail him down. But things work differently here.

 

 

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Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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