The February 17 issue of The Week has a cover story on Raj Thackeray, self-appointed leader of the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) who has been leading an attack on North Indians in the approved manner of goons. Raj is a nephew of the Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray who, in his time, had led a crusade against South Indians in Mumbai. The cover picture of Raj portrays him, very precisely, as a Hitler, dressed like the vicious German dictator of the 1930s. Raj has been venting his strong anti-North Indian feelings in recent times attracting the attention of the Mumbai police and the disgust of decent citizens. Raj has been especially critical of Amitabh Bachchan, wanting to know what Bachchan has done for Maharashtra. Raj forgot to notice what Bachchan has done to India as a whole, which is more than what all the Thackerays put together have done for the country.
The Hindu(February 6) described Raj's?ranting? as ?a crude and opportunistic attempt to whip up Marathi regional chauvinism ?..at the expense of imagined aliens, mostly hapless migrants from UP and Bihar.? ?Hopefully? said the paper ?this unsavoury episode will peter out but what remains of concern is the threat to the identity of Mumbai whose cosmopolitan spirit remains the pride of India even as its greatness reflects the hard-work, talent and contributions of millions of people from several states?.
The Times of India (February 12) wanted to know what was the thinking of the ageing leader of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray, and said he must clarify his views. It asked: ?Does he want to fall back into old politics or does he want his party to move ahead to an inclusive image more suited to the face of a great cosmopolis?? This was because Bal Thackeray'sson and the Shiv Sena'sexecutive president Uddhav sounded a warning to ?outsiders? that they should not apply for jobs in Mumbai and if they did they would be packed off.
The Chandigarh-based The Tribune (February 5) pointed out that Mumbai is not ?just another Maharashtra town but the heart of India (and) it is the duty of everyone who loves it to make an effort to make the heartbeat stronger?. Raj Thackeray, the paper said ?is certainly not doing that? but is doing the exact opposite. ?It is imperative? concluded the paper, ?to stop him and others of his ilk in their tracks?.
Gomantak Times (February 8) said that Raj's?abrasive posturing in Mumbai is almost certainly a desperate ploy to shore up the sagging fortunes of his party? and that ?his own interest, not the welfare of the Thane-Mumbai belt, is the motive behind his actions?. Predictably the paper said, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, coalition government partners, are playing the waiting game, hoping that Raj will do enough damage to the Shiv Sena vote bank. Apparently it is not the interests of India in this regard that matters with the Congress as much as chances of its winning elections. When will we have a truly great leadership that goes beyond narrow political interests and looks for the concept of One India One People prevailing in the land? Raj, one hopes, will get his comeuppance soon?and the sooner, the better. People from all over India are watching the Mumbai scene with subdued feelings.