Where is nothing more sickening that to hear Shiv Sena goons proclaiming that no criticism of Bal Thackeray, their Chief, will be tolerated. Are we going through an Indian phase of German Nazidom in the twenty first century? Haven’t we learnt from history? Criticising Hitler wasn’t permissible in Nazi Germany and those who did, had it coming. Hitler had his goose-stepping thugs. Thackeray and his nephew have their lower middle class goons. Hitler encouraged hatred of Jews; he sent several millions of them to the gas chambers. Thackeray hates ‘outsiders’, notably Bihari labour. Time was when the hatred was aimed at ‘Madrassis’. The Shiv Sena couldn’t distinguish between Tamilians, Malayalis and people from Andhra. Many of them working as clerks or stenographers in business firms in the Fort area were mercilessly beaten.
The Thackerays eat, drink and breathe hatred bringing disgrace to Maharashtra and Maharashtrians. That there are many Maharashtrians who have stood up to the Thackerays and have been relently opposing them is the only saving factor. The Thackerays may not realise it, but what they have been doing is to impose a heavy inferiority complex on the ordinary Marathi manoos, by putting him in the straitjacket of inefficiency, incompetence and lack of enterpreneurship. This is an insult to the Marathi manoos. The Thackerays are doing no service either to the Marathi manoos or to Maharashtra by downgrading his capacities. But the larger issue is of the Thackeray’s demanding immunity from criticism. It exposes their weakness.
True leaders are not afraid of criticism in a democracy. Down the ages real leaders have bravely faced criticism, even welcoming it. Gandhi, Nehru, Vallabhbhai, Subhas Chandra Bose in their time had their critics. Gandhiji must have suffered the most. He welcomed criticism and answered his critics, both in Young India and later in Harijan. Names famous abroad like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, even Charles de Gaulle of France took criticism in their stride. Churchill who had been Britain’s Prime Minister during the Second World War had even to suffer the ignominy of having to lose his Prime Ministership after the war was over and elections took place. He took the hurt sportingly.
“The Maharashtra Government” said The Times of India ( November 23) , a basically Mumbai paper, “needs to stand by the rule of law if it genuinely wants to end this menace of political violence”. The paper said the “ineptitude of the government has surely not been lost on the two Senas which are competing to promote a chauvinistic agenda” and the paper correctly noted that “there is reason to fear that the government’s failure to crack down on miscreants is more by choice than chance”-and no truer words were said. CBN-IBN’s Rajdeep Sardesai was beside himself with angst and tried to commit the Chief Minister to say that he will take on not just the goons but their top inspirers, but one can be sure that the CM will handle both Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray with kid gloves.
The Indian Express ( November 23) said it all when it noted that even if a few culprits have been arrested “there is little doubt that they will soon be set on bail even as the government mulls over making an attack on media personnel a non-bailable offence”. To make it more plain, the Express said that” the real instigators are unlikely to be touched even as they boast of their “achievement’”. The Free Press Journal (November 17) asked: ” Why cannot Marathi manoos hope to enter the State Bank of India (which is recruiting staff on a competitive basis) by dint of their education, rather than their depending on the crutches of reservation as sought by the rival Senas?”
And referring to Thackeray’s attack on Sachin Tendulkar, the paper said: ” If Sachin could overcome all competition due to his superior skills and hard work, why not inspire all other Maharashtrians to follow his example and shape their own destiny through hard work and honesty. By repeatedly harping on a special dispensation for the Marathi manoos, the Thackeray’s fuel the self-destructive politics of presumed grievance and thus distract from the crucial role of individual effort in improving one’s economic prospects. Thus the current demand that the State Bank of India grant a preferential treatment to Mumbaikars in white collar jobs is wholly misguided”. If the entire country does not take action against the SS and MNS topmost leaders now, the time will come when the entire country will have to pay for it. The Indian variety of Nazism under no circumstances should be permitted.
Every square inch of land in India that is Bharat belongs to every Indian citizen. Mumbai is not Marathi property. As Sachin Tendulkar rightly pointed out, Mumbai belongs to India. For over forty long years the Shiv Sena has been holding non-Marathi Mumbaikars to ranson and it is time that they are called to order. Maharashtra is ruled by the Congress Party. Sonia Gandhi must sharply pull up its Chief Minister if he starts dilly-dallying. Should non- Marathi Mumbaikars have to live in eternal fear of Shiv Sena-MNS goons? What are we coming to? First it was the ‘Madrassi’ who was Shiv Sena’s target. Now it is the Bihari. Tomorrow it will be someone else. Where will it all end?
The RSS has made its point clear. But all the political parties-repeat, all the political parties-must join hands to put Mumbai’s neo-Nazis in their place. The one comfort is that the Marathi press is putting up a fight. All credit to it. It will be a great fight if leaders of all parties, including Sonia Gandhi, LK Advani, Budhadev Bhattacherjee, Sharad Pawar, Karunanidhi and Kumari Mayavati, address a public meeting in Mumbai’s famous venue, Chowpatty to make it clear that neo-Nazism will not be tolerated, whether in Mumbai or Chennai, Kolkata, Patna, Delhi or Lucknow. We have had enough of pussy-footing by the Congress which is playing politics. Indira Gandhi tried that in the Punjab and paid a heavy price. Let it not be said that Sonia Gandhi has not been warned. We are having replicas of Bhindranwalles in Mumbai with their appeal to the lowest kind of chauvinism. That has to be sternly met, with logic as well as with the levers of law. The Thackerays must be told, once and for all, that they are undermining the essential unity of India. We are One India, One People. Every city, every state belongs to everybody in the country. We are Indians first, last and always.