Friday, September 12, 2008

Loktantra Thamba…

The innocents would die. The democracy we live in is so unique that once it begins to get all transparent, it all the more becomes invisible. In Maharashrata’s politics, the very word marathi manus has brought in this transparency, where before saying thamba, a marathi manus says paha (look) and then permits an Indian to move on by saying pudhe chala. Interestingly in Maharashtra, on every traffic signal or on the roadside, one would find something like thamba-paha-pudhe chala written.

The game of politics Raj Thackrey is playing can be crushed by any government. Even Bal Thackrey’s provocative editorials can be stopped anytime according to the Law. And if Amitabh Bachchan decides to revolt against Raj Thackrey’s marathi manus politics, he can anytime suppress Thackrey. However, thamba-paha-pudhe chala will continue, in spite of the fact that there’s a Constitution which rules. The Govt. has all the powers to take steps against the law-breakers. But who would raise his voice and say that it’s a democratic nation and that no one can dictate us. Why is Bachchan scared of saying this? And why is the government not taking any strong actions?

However before that, it’s important to know the Thackrey trend of politics, which belongs to Bala Saheb Thackrey and not Raj Thackrey. Bala Saheb Thackrey very subtly ingrained the type of politics which got initiated in Maharashtra just after the independence, into his politics in the 60’s. Nehru was against regionalism and language based division. However, regionalism is more prevalent in Maharashtra than in any other state like Andhra Pradesh, Punjab or even Gujarat for that matter. There are two reasons behind this. Firstly, the extraordinary Shivaji’s Maratha Kingdom, which fought bravely against Mughals and the British and made themselves an others proud. And secondly, the active role played by Tilak, Gokhale and Justice Ranade in the freedom struggle. Bal Thakre raised these two matters very firmly, through his Shivsena. This got support from the failure of the Sanyukt Maharashtra Andolan and Nehru’s economic policy in the 60’s. The political thinking that was making a place for itself in that period did not believe in democracy. It despised the parliamentary politics and hated political system. Also, it promoted provincial narrowness, communalism, Marathaism, Hindu following and a pro-Hitler attitude. Bal Thakrey understood the message and inculcated it. Thackrey never gave any importance to the concept of democracy and worked the way Hitler did. Actually, Bala sahib based his politics on what he felt was going against him.

In the 60’s, Gujaratis ruled over the trade and industries in Mumbai. The dairy business was in the hands of people of UP. Punjabis from Punjab had a monopoly over the taxi and spare part work whereas South Indians were mostly in the teaching profession. The food business was mainly run by uddupis (people of Karnataka) or Iranis. The construction work lay in the hands of Sindhis and kammas (people of Andhra Pradesh). In this situation, what would a Mumbai dweller do except for saying “Amchi Mumbai aahe”, actually without anything at hand? And that’s the reason why it was not important for the incoming Gujaratis , Parsis, South Indians and North Indians to learn Marathi. Hindi-English was enough to make things work out. Also, it wasn’t important for them to relate to the socio-cultural milieu of the Maharashtrians. When against this Raj Thackrey instigated a base for his politics, Muslims and South Indians were the first ones to be targeted. In his newspaper Marmik, through cartoons and articles, Thackrey said, “All the lungi-clad criminals, illegal alcohol vendors, merchants, rogues and beggars are communists….I want an illegal alcohol vendor to be a Maharashtrian and even a rogue to be a Marathi”.

The language and attitude of Thackrey proved him and Shivsena as an effective pressure group in the Parliamentary elections of 1967. In 1968, he won the Municipal Corporation Elections with full majority and no external support. Importantly, this is the same politics which after 40 years, Raj Thackrey is speaking. In the last 40 years, Bal Sahib formed a Govt. and also lost the authority when he spoke of the nuances of a democracy. The ground that was created by Bal Thackrey through Shivsena, remained as it is. It was only that Shivsena and Balasahib went too far, so much so that there’s no way of coming back. In this period when Shivsena was losing its grounds, Narayan Rane came in for some time. The way Rane worked was similar to that of Bal Thackrey. And this is how Narayan Rane established himself in the whole Maharashtra. According to Congress, it was the same politics that Bala Sahib played during the 60’s. Thackrey claimed that Shivsena came into existence because of the emotional politics of India and that it’s harmful for the modern day regionalism. Raj Thackrey, at this time has nothing to lose; the same way Bal Thackrey had nothing 40 years back. In this context, Raj’s anti-social movement is becoming a battleground for politics.

However, the other truth behind this politics is far bigger than the politics itself. Prevalence of employment and regionalism in 60’s was there, but both existed separately. However in 2008, both employment and regionalism have merged. The moment Shivsena went off power, the employment got effected. This was the time when Maharashtra was economically developing, and an alliance between the Govt. and a special class aggregated everything. So, someone who wanted an employment didn’t join the system, and Shivena, who wanted profit in this alliance, didn’t get anything.

As a result of closing down of mills and Maharashtra Industrial Development corporations in various districts of Maharashtra, the employment opportunities nullified. Also, there was a steep instigation of land mafias, used as a political weapon. In this profession, Congress, BJP, Shivsena and Thackrey had equal shares. In this regard, the profit didn’t reach the majority Maharashtrian class, trained by Shivsena.

Raj Thackrey has very well learned from Bala Sahib, ways to use this majority and their emotions as tools of protest. However, the politics played by Thackreys raises two questions. Where is the government which was chosen by the people? It’s a necessity to say thamba loktantra for the sake of Vilasrao Deshmukh’s government. After the breaking and making of Congress, the Govt. very well knows this and the marathi manus is important for Nationalist Congress party also. The reason is that, any political party can only gain votes and sympathy of a marathi manus if they are able to fulfill their minimum requirements.

The question here that can be raised is why a marathi manus’ politics being played in a state where the farmers are committing suicide and electricity is a problem? A place where there’s no development compared to other states and where the elites are living a seven star life. Importantly for Raj Thackrey, these are the problems that work like oxygen and the Govt. becomes a silent spectator.

So largely, what’s the need for Amitabh Bachchan to ask for an apology? The question isn’t that, just because Amitabh Bachchan lives in Mumbai and has achieved heights here, so that he must also pray the land. The whole question is that the medium through which he has become a superstar has developed in Maharashtra and the people in that profession have earned plenty of money.

However, this is when Amitabh’s distress starts. The aggression of people behind Amitabh’s success is being cashed by Raj Thackrey. Amitabh’s films have given the masses a language to protest and courage to fight against atrocities. But Amitabh acts in his films. This success has linked Amitabh Bachchan to the world but has cut him socially. If someone, through Bollwood directs the people towards aggression-tension and cashes on it, then if the same set of people comes up and protest, then we need to understand the whole definition of apology.

Amitabh’s apology isn’t towards Raj, rather, it’s directed towards himself. He has made himself a superstar, cutting himself off from people. Like a government’s self confessed silence. The same way like Bal Thackrey praising Amitabh for his political benefits. This is exactly the way Raj Thackrey’s marathi manus wants to enter the government. Hence, loktantra thamba…

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