Marathi vs Hindi: a ploy to get political mileage

By Danish Reyaz

Is Maharashtra going to be another Assam? May be and may be not. The recent war over language in Maharashtra is totally uncalled for. It is being fought on baseless ground with false belief system. A genuine question is will the common people gain anything from this cheap well designed tactics of MNS and SP to exploit linguistic emotions for their own survival?

Maharashtra is facing a lot of social and economic problems like famine, water and electricity shortage and burgeoning unemployment. None of these problems will be solved by the present language controversy. It is just another tool to befool people. What people care is a better life and of course neither the flag bearers of language nor the political establishments are providing it. Anybody listening?

The shameful incident that took place on the first day of the special session of the new assembly house in which four debutant MNS MLAs assaulted and slapped SP leader Abu Aasim Azmi for taking the oath of office in Hindi was deplorable because it dishonored the House. I am sure MNS leaders understand that it's not a democratic way to register their protest, to show the simmering anger, to demonstrate their 'emotions'. But since they wanted to make their mark on day one, they broke their own sacred rules of 'plural culture'. Does MNS Chief Raj Thakray really believe in pluralism?

Raj Thakray formed Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena on 9th March 2006 and pronounced his political objectives that the Sena "will bring the people of Maharashtra together ,irrespective of caste, religion, sect or class, under its flag, for the development of Maharashtra". So far so good. But the real intent was to replace Shive Sena and this is what he is trying to do. Raj regrets the truth that he is a nephew not the real son of Shive Sena Supremo Bala Saheb Thakray who declared his son Udhav his political heir. Now he wants to capture the heights that Udhav's political ascendency has created. To achieve his dream Raj hijacked Shive Sena's agenda of 'Marathi manoos, North Indians and Marathi language as Thackray Sr. has claimed on many occasions. In the process Raj is gaining political mileage by targeting SP leader Abu Aasim Azmi who was a popular figure among North Indians, in February 2008. MNS activists clashed with Samajwadi Party (SP) workers in a rally at Shivaji Park where Maharashtra SP president Abu Aasim Azmi made a forceful speech. When the hangover of regionalism was over, 19 MNS activists and 73 SP workers were arrested by Mumbai Police for indulging in violence. It was the beginning of 'romance' between MNS and SP patronized by Congress-NCP regime and the 'clandestine mutual relationship' will keep growing till every concerned party gets its due share. Thackray Sr may be wrong when he says that assembly drama played on November 9 was pre-planned but it's true that both parties need each other's hatred to survive in politics.

This war of language between MNS and SP in Maharashtra is nothing but a fight of 'mutual understanding' for existence of their parties. The rhetoric still continues. MNS  spokesperson Shrish Parkar says "we will do it again if provoked". Suspended MLA Shashir Shinde clarifies: "Abu Aasim Azmi has been constantly provoking our sentiments. Before the oath ceremony he wrote a letter to Ananta Kadse, secretary to Legislature and asked "whether there is any provision in the Assembly rules to take oath of office in Hindi. After that he releases a press statement and targeted the Marathi Manus." Moreover he said that just like Azmi people from North India come here and take part in electoral process, while their contribution is cipher for the states development."  

But when asked SP leader about his provocative statements he replied "I am not playing Marathi Manus politics, our three legislators took oath in Marathi. I didn't provoke their sentiments; I just took oath in Hindi since I wanted to protect our Constitution." He asks 'is it crime to take oath in Hindi? If not then how it hurts 'some people's sentiments? Language was one of the best weapons in Indian politics to create division and spread hatred. Are we ready for it?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2009 on page no. 2

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