At 3:33pm of 17th November 2012, Balasaheb Thackeray died. People of Maharashtra always loved him, but with extensive media coverage given to his last rites, whole nation witnessed how popular Balasaheb was. In national media, there were many debates on his legacy and what he stood for. Many political observers and thinkers expressed their opinions based on their observations, but no body in my opinion, was successful in explaining the phenomenon of Bal Thackeray.
He is often termed as populist, fascist, right wing, Hindu extremist. He is often blamed for divisive politics. His comments on Biharis, Madrasis and Muslims, his praises for Hitler, Nathuram Godse are always quoted to support these theories.
He founded Shiv Sena in 1966 as an organization which would fight for sons of the soil. At that time all the government jobs needed knowledge of English. Though Maharashtra is a Marathi linguistic state founded in 1961 after a decade long movement, Marathi language was still not used in administration. This deprived locals from government jobs as most of the Maharastrians learned English as their 3rd language and that too for 3 years in secondary schooling. In South India, many people knew English and they used to get jobs easily in Maharashtra government. On this background, Shivsena took up the issue of compulsion of Marathi in Maharashtra government job interviews. But as usual, the government did not pay attention to it forcing Shivsena to start agitation. Only after that agitation, government understood the gravity of the issue and Marathi got its due place in state administration. Many locals got job in government after that.
India has a track record of insensitive and deaf governments who neglect people who are traditionally not their vote banks. Congress especially thrives by adding votes of minority community to its bucket and therefore is very sensitive for the causes of minorities. It makes Congress leadership’s job very simple, first it just needs to placate the minority community leaders and second it does not need to be accountable for governance to majority section of the population. Worldwide minorities always transform into vote banks, India is no different. The only thing which differs in India from place to place is the kind of minority…it could be racial, religious, linguistic or caste based. Congress has mastered the equation of adding these minority vote banks and winning the election. But look what happens when some other does the same thing…take example of UP and Bihar..in these states congress has got a dose of their own politics and now Congress is nowhere.
What Balasaheb symbolizes is the politics of majority. In his entire career, he never indulged himself into class politics. The reason a Brahmin could become chief minister of Maharashtra was Bal Thackeray. The politics of majority is essentially a politics of common man. Its a very difficult brand of politics to practice in India where society is fragmented in multiple divisions in the name of caste, language, religion, race etc. The reason Shivsena did not win elections lies in the fact that it never resorted to divisive politics.
There are few things which needs to be understood before commenting on Balasaheb’s statements. First of all, his Hindutva is different from Hindutva of RSS or Hindutva of Savarkar. Bal Thackeray in his entire life always called India as Hindustan and people believing in this nation as Hindu. This stance was very clear and whoever reads his newspaper knows it. I come from a place where Shivsena MLA was a Muslim. Bal Thackeray always supported Muslim cause when it comes to social reforms and their secular wellness. All the reformist Muslim leaders in Maharashtra found support in Bal Thackeray. Take the famous case of Asghar Ali Engineer.
One should also know the background of Balasaheb. His father, Prabodhankar, was a well known social reformist and was extremely critical of bad traditions within Hinduism. He did not believe in rituals and worships. Balasaheb inherited the same progressive legacy and therefore was the only person who suggested to build National Memorial Hospital in Ayodhya after the demolition of Babari. No body supported him including congress.
He was always critical about people who keep their faiths above the Nation. He criticized many Muslim leaders openly who refused to place India above Islam, the idea was to expose them and not to spread hatred against Muslims in general. Most of the times his comments were reaction to some writings in Urdu media. The national media never tried to understand the background of his statements. Once he said, “take away right to vote from Muslims and we will see how many political parties support Muslims”. This statement came in national media as Bal Thackeray demanded withdrawal of voting right of Muslims. It resulted into ban on Bal Thackeray and he could not vote for next six years.
Few words about his regional politics. It was again a part of his Majority politics. He made it clear several times that in Maharashtra you are a Marathi, in Punjab you are a Punjabi..in Bengal you are a Bengali because the Indian states are organized on linguistic basis, but when it comes to fight against foreign terror we are Hindus (the word he always used for Indians and it does not have any religious connotations). Its a responsibility of the minority community to adjust with the culture, learn the local language. He always praised Tamilians for that. In Tamil Nadu, you have to learn Tamil to survive. As per him, the governments should always think about Majority section of the population and not about the minority section. In 1st world democracies, the minority rights are given very high importance, but in country like India where the resources are limited, it becomes necessary to decide the preferences.
People loved him because he never changed his stance, he always believed Politics of Majority community, he always put the interests of people above his political interests. Calling him a fascist is a joke if one understands the meaning of Fascist. He believed in benevolent dictatorship only because of factional politics played in democracies which he thought is not in the interest of majority (and not based on the wishes of the majority). His political agitation often involve violence because of the insensitive governments and government inability to protect interests of the people in general while protecting the interests of minority vote banks. If there exists any other way by which government can listen to the people, he would have adopted that. See what happened to Anna Hazare’s movement.
He could manage this kind of politics with fair amount of success (though limited) for last 46 years only because of his leadership qualities, his oratory skills and clarity of thoughts. He not only delivered speeches, but also built a cadre based organization which is allover in India now and even in Nepal. Therefore question also comes in my mind about the future of Shivsena. Unless Uddhav Thackeray continues to carry on the legacy of his father, Balasaheb’s disappearance from the political horizon will leave a huge void in Maharashtra politics.
The only difference between british era and post-independence era is the selection of the rulers…in Britsh era they were appointed by Britishers and now they are appointed by people of India….61 years of this Indian rule has proved the fact that democracy is not just about elections….its more about systems, conventions and traditions…
We empowered our elected representatives to modify the systems so that it will serve interests of Indians…but like any other rulers they modified systems to protect their own interests (yes there still is a ruling class)…sycophancy became convention and corruption became an important tradition..Now it is high time that we force our representatives to modify systems appropriately.. just changing representatives in every five years is not working …’Power Corrupts’ everyone… the system should have inbuilt checks and controls…Lokpal could be one of these control mechanism…
Elected representative will oppose such controls on the pretext of supremacy of parliament, but it was these representatives who have not done enough for last 60 years in terms of changing orientation of the system towards the citizens. Citizens always suffered due to bad governance..Simple processes like getting birth, death certificates,land purchases, ration cards, licenses, clearance for any form of businesses are not just time consuming, but they also make citizens run from one office to another..these processes have encouraged corruption..Politicians have vested interest in not changing these bureaucratic processes.
Agreed that Lokpal will not change any of these, but it may act as a strong deterrent for those who take undue advantage of the loopholes in the system. Importance of Lokpal will automatically go down when suspicious activities within system go down. So we just hope that eventually politicians would bring changes in the system and make Lokpal redundant…We will wait for that day :)
article 370 was introduced to abide by the terms of J&K’s accession. The accession of J&K was conditional.
India desperately wanted to prove 2-nation theory wrong and wanted a muslim majority region under its fold, also the strategic significance of Kashmir and willingness of Kashmiri leaders to have separate state for themselves (under protection of India) were the main reasons why India went ahead for accession of J&K.
When Instrument of Accession was signed, constitution of India was not ready. As per clause 7 of the Instrument of Accession, J&K was not committed to accept the future Constitution of India.
In 1949 november when all the princely state heads and provincial heads of Indian dominion were supposed to issue proclaimations making Constitution of India operative in their respective states and provinces, J&K refused such proclaimation refering to the clause 7 of Instrument of Accession. This is because the draft form of constitution refused separate constitutions for the states and J&K always wanted their own separate constitution.
There was a legal imbroglio in this situation, the accession issue was already with united nations and in such situations India has to abide by its promise. This lead to Article 306-A of the draft Constitution of India (which became article 370 in the actaul constitution).
Considering the overall situation prevalent, Article 370 was a major step forward at that time. The Article at least paved the way for the Republic of India to make several laws and provisions of the Constitution of India applicable to Jammu & Kashmir State beyond the strait jacket of the Instrument of Accession. Besides, Article 370 was conceived as a temporary arrangement, with hopes of a full integration in time to come.
After freedom struggle Indian politics conspicuously lacked the true national level leaders.
This has done considerable damage to our national psyche. The growth of regionalism can also be attributed to the fact that our polity could never allow pan-Indian thoughts to flourish. Election could never been won on the national issues, local issues always mattered the most. The local MP is always blamed for the non-development of the region. So there are lesser incentives for a leader to broaden his thinking.
Therefore the coalition politics was always inevitable.
Because of this, sometimes i feel, the nehru-gandhi regime was needed in India. It was the only factor which kept India away from nuances of coalition politics. Now when there are no popular national level Nehru-Gandhi family member in politics, India is in trouble.
At least there should have been a leader of Vajpayee’s stature who could provide leadership to the small leaders. Even that kind of leaders are not on the political scene.
Therefore ‘who after Manmohan Singh’ remains a big question in Indian Politics.
The recent ‘slap’ episode in Maharashtra assembly, made Raj Thakre’s MNS overnight hit in Maharashtrians. Abu Azmi, an elected MLA of Samajwadi Party insisted on taking oath in Hindi and MNS MLA manhandled him in the assembly. It started different debates in media..right from whether Hindi is a national language to whether it was a petty attempt to grab media attention.
But in various internet forums, when common people from Hindi belt reacted…they claimed that Maharashtrians hate Hindi and it is an attempt to dishonor Hindi.
Do maharashtrians really hate Hindi?
In ancient India, there were three dialects of Prakrit
Maharashtri was prevalent in today’s MP and Maharashtra.
Maharattha is a ‘Apabhransh’ of Maharashtri. ‘Apabhransh’ was a form
of language spoken by common people.
Marathi language evolved mainly from Maharashtri.
The people speaking this language were referred as Maharrthis or Marathis.
Marathis always were a marshal race mainly due to the tough terrain.
They have to fight hard to earn their livelihood.
Shivaji carved a nation out of these people. But his vision was never
narrow. Shivaji always talked about expelling foreigners from entire
India and talked about ‘Hindavi Swaraj’. The Swaraj of Hindavi’
(locals of Hindustan) people. Therefore it spread all across the India
in future, but the then Marathi rulers could not spread nationhood
everywhere and Maratha State became a confederacy of some feuds.
Though this history gave Marathis a national vision. The Marathi
leaders in 19-20th century were never confined to Maharashtra.
Gokhale, Tilak, Hedgewar, Savarkar, Dange were pioneers of different
political streams in India.
Even when Indian cinema started, Hindi was adopted as its language.
So if someone thinks that Marathis hate Hindi because they are narrow
minded or paranoid, he needs ‘Atma-shuddhi’.
Marathis do not hate Hindi. They watch Hindi news channel, hindi
movies. They speak in Hindi with non-marathis.
When Marathis support Raj Thakre, it is not because of the paranoia,
it is mainly because they hate the political culture which comes along
with North Indian vote bank. Marathis do not oppose ‘chhat puja’, but
can not see Lalu’s, Mulayams making inroads in the Mumbai politics.
Therefore the support to Thakres is because they at least take up
their issues fearlessly.
Go back and check the history..Bal thakre took up the issue of jobs
for Marathis in 1969.. When it got solved, it took him 20 years to
rise in politics (that to with Hindutva)
Though IPL is shifted outside India, still there won’t be any dearth of entertainment this summer, another IPL (Indian Political League) is going to take place. It is going to be a huge show with official governmental spending of 15000 crore rupees (three time the amount spent in US elections). Who will be the winner in this reality show?
The tournament will take place in two rounds. In the first round, people of India will vote and elect their representatives. In the next round these representatives among themselves will decide about the winner of the competition.
It seems as if people of India are divided on who should lead them. Some people will vote based on caste, some will vote based on region and there will be very few who will vote for the betterment of the nation. The result of the first round is therefore a foregone conclusion. hung assembly with no coalition getting clear majority.
This therefore makes second round more interesting and offers minnows a chance to get top chair. So who are the main contenders?
2] Mulayam singh
3] Lalu prasad
4] Sharad Pawar
Mayawati is an official third front candidate backed by the Left, TDP, Jayalalita etc. There are good chances that Third front will get around 120+ seats with Mayawati winning 30 odd seats nationwide. But will either congress or bjp support mayawati? Looks difficult as she is politically very ambitious and will trouble congress and bjp both in Uttar pradesh.
Mulayam Singh will get support from Left and congress will also support him to thwart Mayawati. But considering the Mayawati wave it seems difficult for him to repeat the success of 2004 elections when he won 35 seats. So for him to become PM he just needs to win more seats than other smaller parties which still looks difficult.
Same is the case with Lalu Prasad. Nitish Kumar is doing too good in Bihar to allow Lalu to get 20 odd seats in Bihar. But he manages to do that he will be the first choice for congress and Left is not going to oppose him on ideological grounds.
Sharad Pawar also has good friends across the parties. SP has already declared support for his candidature. Last year Left parties have already made clear that in UPA he is the only consensus candidate.
His main problem will be support from congress.
Will congress support him over Mayawati is a main question. Some people in congress do not consider him a long term threat like Mayawati. That could go in his favor.
Whoever wins it is really going to be a terrific competition this summer. The reason I did not even discussed the candidature of Adavani and Manmohan (or for that matter Rahul) is simply because both BJP and Congress can not win 120 odd seats this times which will make the combine number of other smaller parties bigger. After all it is a number game.