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‘Do political movements need to obey the law? What about Advani rath yatra, Modi’s Godhra outrage?’
Posted By:Hajas On 2/23/2008

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‘Do political movements need to obey the law? What about Advani rath yatra, Modi’s Godhra outrage?’

Express news service

Posted online: Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 0015 hrs IST

MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 22
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray responds to an open letter written to him by columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni in The Sunday Express on February 17, also published in Loksatta, the Marathi sister publication. The following is an edited version of his reply, translated from Marathi by Rakshit Sonawane. Full text on www.expressindia.com

Respected Sudheendra Kulkarniji:

I am happy to read your open letter. Leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (not all north Indians, only those from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) and all north Indian journalists have decided to label whatever I and my colleagues, my party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena do, as “goondagiri”. It is natural. They are furious because their inter-connected economic, cultural and political interests have been jeopardized. For the first time, their uncontrolled political and cultural dadagiri has been confronted!

With this backdrop, I was happy to read your letter because, for the first time, someone has shown a willingness to discuss and debate the issues raised by me. And it is not someone ordinary but one who has handled the country’s politics and culture from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Sudheendraji, you have made many points in your letter. I will start with the one on violence...Isn’t the outbreak of spontaneous outrage in a people’s movement understood? Can anyone avoid the violence or damage to property even if it does not bring happiness? Wasn’t Gandhiji forced to withdraw his agitation when a chowkie was burnt at Chauri Chaura?

Besides, even after all this, was the violence and damage to public property avoided in the 1942 agitation? When people become furious, their response is the same, whether it is the Congress or the African National Congress.

Sudheendraji, as you are a former Communist, you must be aware of crores of deaths and political murders during communist movements the world over. People’s movements are a repetition of history to some extent.

Besides, do political movements need to obey the law? Political history learnt by me tells me that breaking the law, getting arrested, braving lathis and getting jailed are symbols of a principled agitation.

In recent times, the rulers and opposition parties indulged in movements of political compromise, in which morchas are taken out, the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties are decided. Then the protesters and their companions go home and sleep peacefully! This is called todbazi (compromise). The word political movement is an equivalent word for breaking the law!

Tell me, Sudheendraji, was Bihari MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy not aware of Advaniji’s Rath Yatra when he chose to criticise me on the grounds that my agitation was unconstitutional, destabilising for the nation, sectarian? How many people died then? How much was the violence?

But didn’t Advani pursue his campaign to make his point? The Bihari babu in Rudy seems to have woken up. I don’t remember Rudy mustering courage to register his protest during the Rath Yatra or with Narendrabhai Modiji when our Gujarati brethren were outraged after the Godhra incident.

It means that everyone wants MPs and MLAs from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to dance on the chest of Maharashtra. Because they know that Maharashtra’s MPs and ministers in Delhi will not utter a word! The only thing remaining is Maharashtra government issuing an ordinance to compel every Maharastrian household to accommodate at least one bhaiyya from UP, Bihar and if not done, to brand such Maharashtrians as against the constitution!

I have never opposed, do not oppose ordinary workers from UP and Bihar. Would I have spoken if chhatpooja was an ordinary religious pooja? Gujaratis celebrate Garba in Maharashtra with a bang. We also enjoy it. Bengalis celebrate Navratri. We too participate in it. South Indians perform Ayyappa’s rituals and Marathis pray there. But chhatpooja is not just a religious festival. At least it is not celebrated as one in Mumbai.

It is an akhada (wrestling ring) erected on Mumbai’s chest by Bihari leaders to show their strength. There lies the root of our opposition. Sudheendraji, are you aware of any widespread chhatpooja being celebrated by Biharis living in Mauritius, Dubai or any country close to the sea?

Do Maharashtrians use Ganeshotsav to establish cultural and political supremacy in that state and make it a cultural vassal state? If any Maharashtrian is doing it, I object to that. But Maharashtrians never do it. Except people from UP and Bihar, migrants from other states do not indulge in such feudal activity.

States like Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are also in the north. Maharashtra has no objection to them because migrants from these states behave responsibly. I agree with you that India is a country of bouquets with flowers of different states.

But if a flower of one colour is rubbed violently on the petal of another of a different colour, it will damage both. here will be no manomilan (amalgamation). Nobody should do it.

You have said that I have blamed Amitabh Bachchan for singing the “Chhora Ganga Kinarewala” song from the film “Don”. It is totally false.

Bhaiyya journalists from UP and Bihar, who address Amar Singh as “Sir, Sir” have spread this venomous story all over the country. Am I mad to blame Amitabh for singing this line in “Don”? If that were the case, I would have demanded his arrest for acting in “Don.”

Amitabh Bachchan delivered a speech and I have the clipping. I can show it to you. He said, “Mai Dilli raha, Calcutta raha, Mai Bambai (not Mumbai!) raha. Phir bhi meri pehchan, chhora Ganga kinarewala hi hai”. My only observation was that if such a great hero feels love for Uttar Pradesh despite what Mumbai gave him, then what is wrong if a small man like Raj Thackeray feels love for Maharashtra?

Which Maharashtrian does not love India?

This love is not limited to just bursting crackers after India wins a cricket match, but is as vast as the Sahyadri rushing to help the Himalayas whenever there is a shadow of foreign invasion. Have Maharastrians failed to think about the country?

In fact, Maharashtrians have always thought of the country first, before they think of their own region. My chest swells with pride whenever I say Jai Hind. But nobody should forget that my Maharashtra is a part of India. It has its own culture, its own identity. Nobody should forget it...

The grave of the powerful Mughal emperor — Aurangzeb — exists in Daulatabad in Maharashtra. Riding on the storm created by his 15-50 companions, the great man laid the foundation of an empire. That was the Maratha empire. I pray to Shivaji to lend me and my colleagues at the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena a fraction of himself.

Jai Maharashtra

Raj Thackeray

(Translated by Rakshit Sonawane)

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/276169.html




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