Ayushi Anand firstname.lastname@example.org
India- the oldest civilization, a rich heritage, integration of 29 states, the largest democracy, a secular nation and epitome of diversity. Our unity is very well exhibited when we celebrate Diwali, Eid, Christmas, and Lohri. Our unity is exhibited when we have a Hindu temple in close vicinity to a Muslim dargah. Our unity is exhibited when a Punjabi family gets settled in Tamil Nadu and when an Assamese family is settled in Gujarat. We are a big nation with a population of 1.2 billion. Job creation is a big challenge for our country. In search of better job opportunities, people from small villages or underdeveloped states often migrate to big cities for a better living. The constitution of India allows its citizens to settle in any part of the country irrespective of caste, creed or religion. It is the duty of our lawmakers to ensure that the rights of fellow countrymen aren’t violated. What if the lawmakers not only disregard the rights of Indians but also create a situation which affects the peace of the country by arousing communal beliefs of a certain section of the society? This is what happened in Maharashtra after the formation of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
In 2006, Raj Thackrey quit Shiv Sena after he felt sidelined by his brother, Uddhav Thackrey. Udhav’s growing popularity led to the insecurities of Raj Thackrey. Raj thought that Uddhav is trying to please the North Indians in order to gain popularity and make an impact in the politics of Maharashtra. Raj in order to revive his political career and make a strong mark in the Maharashtra elections, 2009 formed MNS with the ideology of ‘Marathi Manoos.’
Raj Thackrey played the communal card. He is a great critic of the influx of migrants from North India (especially from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) as he feels that they are killing job opportunities for ‘Marathi Manoos.’ Raj started demanding job reservation for Marathi in Maharashtra. Raj was trying to woo the locals to boost his political career.
On 3rd February 2008, MNS workers resorted to street fighting with SP workers, while the latter were on their way to Shivaji Park in Mumbai to attend a rally which was scheduled to be addressed by the former chief minister of UP, Mulayam Singh. The police arrested 19 SP workers and 73 MNS workers on the charges of rioting. Raj justified the aggressive act of his party as a response to “uncontrolled political and cultural dadagiri of the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar migrants and their leaders”. The very next day MNS workers romped around Mumbai. They tore posters of Bhojpuri (dialect in UP and Bihar) films and even attacked the theaters screening it. Party workers resorted to stone throwing at various places in Mumbai. MNS workers raised their party flags in a market dominated by North Indians.
On 10 February at a press conference, he issued a statement saying, “What happened in Mumbai in the past one week was only a reaction and if leaders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar try to demonstrate their strength here, such reactions would recur”.
The MNS workers pelted stones and vandalized the shops owned by North Indians. The shopkeepers were brutally beaten and admitted to hospitals. Several government offices were mobbed by the MNS workers who disrupted the office. A situation of the riot was created throughout Maharashtra. Schools were closed during this disturbance. Many North Indians left Maharashtra. It was a tumultuous period for the North Indians residing in Maharashtra. Raj and other MNS leaders were arrested several times during this period.
In March 2008, Raj lashed out at the veteran Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan for inaugurating a school named after his daughter in law in his native state, Uttar Pradesh. According to Raj, people like Amitabh Bachchan come to Mumbai to earn money but when it comes to social service they head back to their native states.
In his speeches, Raj made derogatory remarks on the festival of Chhath, celebrated widely in Bihar, calling it a “drama” and “a show of arrogance”. Raj asserted that immigrants should respect the culture of Maharashtra and should only celebrate Marathi festivals. He also said that the taxi drivers must know Marathi to preserve the culture of Maharashtra. Clearly, he was targeting the North Indians as most of the taxi drivers in Mumbai were from Bihar or UP.
Mumbai is the commercial capital of India. Hence, people from different parts of the country migrate to this city, not only the North Indians. In fact, a lot of Gujarati’s move to Maharashtra and start their own businesses. Luckily, they have never been under MNS’s banner. A liberal centrist of Maharashtra is of the view that the members of MNS are upper caste, conservative xenophobic’s. So, they are typically like hyenas who want to be around their clans and don’t appreciate interference from foreign elements, especially from impecunious states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
MNS leaders conclude their speeches by “Jai Maharashtra, Jai Hind”. Well, does Maharashtra comes before Hindustan? Isn’t Maharashtra a part of India? If it is a part of India then Jai Hind covers Jai Maharashtra too, there’s no need for a separate Jai Maharashtra at all!
Political leaders can do anything for increasing their vote share, but it is up to us, the citizens to listen to our leaders and vest blind faith in them or to use our intellect, form an opinion and then take an action which is in the interest of our nation!
Raj feels that whatever he is doing is in the best interest of Marathi Manoos, but does that mean North Indian – free Maharashtra? Raj is a political leader. He holds a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Will creating a country within a country garner him votes? Well, it will definitely harm the peace and harmony of our country. It will affect the unity of the nation. It will create a divide.