It helps remember history to understand the games Bal and Raj Thackerays are playing in Mumbai. For our purpose it is enough if we go back to the years preceding the birth of free India. This period has living witnesses making it difficult for the new crop of historians to fudge it. First, India and Pakistan were born in hatred and blood. Delhi is full of survivors of this bloodletting. The Partition massacres were mutual, raising questions such as who engineered them. We know that the Muslims were represented by the Indian Muslim League and the Hindus by the Congress in the Partition parleys.
After Partition, while India embraced democracy and struggled hard to preserve it, Pakistan frequently slipped into military rule. It was hoped that surrender to the blackmail of faith would end Hindu-Muslim divide in India forever. The inclusion of Kashmir in the Indian Republic shattered that hope and created a permanent home for communal discontent and terrorism. But having contested the two-nation theory even while capitulating to it, the Congress Party, soon after Independence, began engaging the Muslims as Muslims in the political discourse, treating them as entities separate from the mainstream which those Muslims who chose to remain in India gladly joined. Subsequent history tells us of the stampede by all parties to treat Muslims as voters and not Indians. This is the story of the Hindu-Muslim divide and of communalism.
After emotionally fracturing the society on the basis of faith, Indian polity discovered caste to cleave the majority community. The Constitution provided cover to both caste and faith though the Supreme Court had on several occasions criticised these provisions. The first party to employ caste hatred as a political weapon was Dravida Kazhagam which inaugurated the decline of the Congress. The Dravida parties, history tells us, even toyed with the idea of secession. But from the very beginning the Congress, that self-styled bastion of secularism, distributed political patronage on the basis of religion and caste.
However, Bal Thackeray'soutfit took birth first in linguistic discord of a different kind, different from the basis on which states were reorganised with language as the main criterion. It is again the Congress which conceded language as the basis of division. In the composite Madras presidency, it is the Tamil-Telugu politics which led to the appointment of the States Reorganisation Commission. The Andhra leaders complained of inequity in the joint family and the Telugu people complained of Tamil condescension.
The Vattal Nagaraj movement in Karnataka also is rooted in Tamil-Kannada incompatibility in Bangalore city. Maratha pride was hurt when South Indians in Mumbai began looking down on Marathi-speaking people. I do not know the origins of opposition to UP and Bihari people in Mumbai. But I surmise that what is happening in Hyderabad is happening in Mumbai too. While the Bengalis, the Tamils, the Maharashtrians and other groups in Hyderabad speak Telugu, a majority of North Indians and the Muslims most of whom were born and went to schools in Hyderabad despise speaking in Telugu. That, of course, will not endear them to the Telugu-speaking people. A natural response is to reciprocate this courtesy.
Congress is responsible for these divisive tendencies and if the media continues to regard the Congress as secular, has to blame itself for such ignorance. The Congress is the centre of political evil in the country and it is in the Congress nursery that communalism, casteism and corruption of every kind were watered and fertilised.
The Telangana movement is based on the sons of the soil theory undeservingly attributed to Bal Thackeray and was known as the Mulki movement at one time. Today, the main manufacturers of hatred are the secularists and human rights activists eyeing international dividends and Padma awards. Years after the Gujarat fires have subsided, they plant a sob story in the media or make a film about arson or employ the media trick of revisiting scenes of communal tragedy and impeding the healing of wounds. Some organisations have stumbled on the devilish idea of setting up a Gujarat ?pogrom? museum. It certainly provides the rationale to set up museums for the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and the killings in Jammu. And, if this madness catches on, there can be museums at Coimbatore, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the memory of victims of terrorism.
It is time the media stop isolating a Thackeray here or a Imam of Delhi there, leaving the legion of hate-mongers scot-free.