Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Pioneer >> Puerile Marathi chauvinism

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    • Sandhya Jain
    • Worse, the senior Thackeray will be making the same grievous error made by the Asom Gana Parishad, which allowed a nationalist sentiment to oust illegal Bangladeshi settlers from the State to degenerate into narrow regional chauvinism. The AGP refused to accommodate Bengali Hindus and Bangla Hindu refugees within the movement, with the result that it failed to achieve any objectives while in power, and was easily sidelined thereafter.

      The Shiv Sena, Mr Thackeray should remember, is not named after the great god Shiva, and need not behave like wild ganas. It was inspired by the great Maratha warrior Shivaji, who fashioned a Hindu kingdom amid a sea of Islamic sultanates, and rejuvenated India’s ancient civilisational ethos in the adverse circumstances of the 17th century. Shivaji struck a mortal blow at the Mughal Empire by challenging Aurangzeb, and established political agency for the beleaguered Hindu community.
    • Devoid of spiritual content, Shiv Sena is in danger of becoming as arid as the Tamil Dravidian parties; indeed, it may already be as culturally barren. This is sad, because only a few centuries ago some of the most powerful bhakti saints — Jnaneshwar, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas — hailed from Maratha country. Guru Gobind Singh’s foremost disciple, Banda Bahadur, who fought valiantly on behalf of the oppressed in Punjab, rose from this land. All these men devoted their lives to defend religious and cultural freedom at times of immense danger.

      Shiv Sena’s raison d’être was to defend Hindu society from the Muslim underworld, and resist its creeping hold over the economy and polity of the nation’s financial capital. For decades the muscular Sainiks created their own brand equity; I remember that in my childhood days, if communal riots anywhere in the country threatened to get out of hand, one stern warning from Mr Bal Thackeray was enough to bring tempers down within 24 hours. The Sainiks never moved out of Mumbai in those days, yet Mr Thackeray was widely perceived as the ‘sword arm’ of the Hindu community. He has come a long way downhill since then.