शुक्रवार, 5 फ़रवरी 2010

From Times of India

Publication: Times Of India Jaipur; Date: Feb 2, 2010; Section: Editorial; Page: 12
Isolate Sena
BJP must listen to RSS viewpoint on Mumbai for all Indians
For once, we think the BJP ought to listen to its big brother, the RSS. According to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Mumbai is for all Indians. He finds no merit in the destructive regionalism of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which wants Mumbai to be the exclusive preserve of Marathi speakers. He has asked RSS cadres to prevent the spread of anti-north Indian and anti-Hindi feelings. The Shiv Sena is plumbing new depths in competitive populism, in its attempt to fight off the MNS. Not content with bad-mouthing Sachin Tendulkar it has now taken to calling Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan a traitor, because of the reasonable position he has taken that some Pakistani players should have found a slot in the IPL. Both Tendulkar and industrialist Mukesh Ambani have reminded the Sena and MNS that Mumbai belongs to all of India. Despite eminent Mumbaikars having voiced their views on this, the absence of a serious political challenge to the Sena’s and MNS’s chauvinist plank has emboldened them to persist with their divisive campaign. In that context it’s a shrewd move on the part of the RSS to step into the debate and speak up for all Indians. We hope the BJP responds. The BJP has so far been reluctant to openly back the RSS on the issue. While it has allied with the Sena to battle the Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra, the Sena has done it no favours. The BJP may now have no choice but to take on the Sena. Refusal to do so is likely to impact the BJP’s electoral prospects outside Maharashtra. Bhagwat’s remarks have come at a time when mainstream political parties including the Congress and the NCP have refused to challenge the Sena agenda. These parties have either kept mum or tried to echo Sena’s slogans whenever the latter has pushed its nativist credo. But there is an anti-chauvinist space that is crying out for political exploitation in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai. It’s time political parties rose above shortsighted electoral calculations and confronted the divisive agenda of chauvinist politicians. The Sena and the MNS are most likely to represent a fringe section in the Marathi society. A majority of Maharashtrians, even those who may subscribe to a Hindutva agenda, are unlikely to support a campaign that seeks to isolate them from the rest of India. The likes of Sena are a threat to the unity of India.

Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date: Feb 3, 2010; Section: Editorial; Page: 22
Mumbai and 370
Jug Suraiya
The Shiv Sena-sangh parivar spat about who has the right to live and work in Mumbai – with the Sena claiming that the city be reserved exclusively for Marathi manoos and the RSS and the BJP counter-claiming that the metropolis should be home to any Indian who chooses to make it home – has taken a curious turn। The BJP has likened the Sena’s stance to Article 370, which disallows non-Kashmiri Indians from buying immovable property in Kashmir, which is anathema to both parties। Apart from the Sainiks, the comparison will also put a lot of liberals in a bind. If Mumbai ought to be open to all – and all liberals will emphatically endorse that view, even at the discomfiture of for once having to side with the despised parivar – why shouldn’t Kashmir have a similar open-door policy for all Indians? The old argument that Article 370 of the Constitution was specifically put in to recognise and preserve Kashmir’s ‘special’ status has worn thin over the years. Instead of enabling that beleaguered state to become part of the so-called national mainstream, the ‘special’ status that it supposedly enjoys under Article 370 has, if anything, only served to entrench separatism in the Valley. The ‘protection’ that Article 370 affords Kashmiris has been made into a cruel mockery by the plight of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits who out of fear of extremist menace have been driven into exile in other parts of the country, and whose fate has largely been overlooked by successive central governments. The sangh parivar has long opposed Article 370. Now, by juxtaposing Mumbai with 370 – and, in effect, with Kashmir – the saffronites have added considerable force to their argument. What will – or what can – the liberal and secular response be? To say that the two cases – of Mumbai and of Kashmir – are very different is only to state the obvious. Of course they are very different; historically, politically, demographically, you name it. But equally without question they are both integrally a part of India. So, 60 years after the founding of the republic, shouldn’t the basis of their ‘Indianness’ be the same, in terms of rights of residence and the acquisition of property? The parivar’s game plan – which the secular-liberals have so far thwarted – has been to ‘saffronise’ the Valley through mass Hindu migration and so resolve the so-called ‘Kashmir problem’ once and for all. The liberal quandary now is how to continue to make a special case for Kashmir while siding, however uncomfortably, with the parivar’s assertion that all of India should be equally hospitable to all Indians. All the parties concerned – the Shiv Sena, the sangh parivar, the Congress and other self-styled ‘secularists’ – are playing votebank politics with an eye to their respective constituencies. Like everything else – from disinvestment and other economic reforms to Indo-Pak relations – it all boils down to vote-catching politics. Except that in this case – the case of Mumbai-Kashmir, or Mumbai 370, if you like – it’s not just a single or even a set of policies that is at stake but the very essence of the republic, of its pluralistic heart and soul. With or without economic reforms, India can – and indeed has for all these years – survived. So has it survived ups and downs, war and peace, with its neighbours and with other powers. But can India survive as India if Indianness is made subservient to regionalism, be it in the name of Marathi manoos or the Kashmiri ethos? If Kashmir is only for Kashmiris, then what’s wrong with the demand of the Thackerays, Bal and Raj, that Mumbai should only be for Marathis? Similarly, should Assam be only for the Assamese, Bengal for the Bengalis, and so on, till nothing remains of India but a name and a tattered rag that once was the proud tricolour? The Sena-parivar shouting match has opened a can of worms. All 370 of them.

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