Sunday, 7 February 2010

Small Talk: Raj Thackeray = Ajmal Kasab?

I had long stopped reading the newspapers. But Friday afternoon while trying to dodge sleep in office after a heavy lunch, my eyes fell on the headlines on a newspaper, which stated that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) was now targetting Indian National Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi. I couldn't help exclaim, "Why can't MNS let people just be? Why doesn't it understand that Mumbai cannot do without the mix of people from different places?"

I had assumed that my muttering would go ignored, but that wasn't the case. My Gujarati-speaking colleague, who is as much a Mumbaikar as I am, said, "But what Shah Rukh Khan said was also wrong." 

I honestly did not know what SRK had said. I was least bothered about what a man in an independent country could have said. Nor should it bother anyone else. My Marathi-Tamil speaking colleague said, "SRK said that Raj Thackeray was equivalent to Ajmal Kasab." Her eyes almost popped out, indicating her understanding of blasphemy in the words of SRK. 

I replied, "What wrong did he say? Isn't Raj equivalent to Kasab, in the way he is going about annihilating the non-Marathis here?" 

Marathi-Tamil speaking colleague replied, "How could you say that? Kasab killed so many innocents! Raj is only fighting for the Marathi manoos."

Gujarati speaking colleague: "See, if you look at it historically, Raj hasn't done anything wrong. It is only politics."

Marathi-Tamil speaking colleague: "Raj is slogging and fighting for the working class, those have been deprived on their jobs."

Me: "How different is Raj from Kasab? Kasab killed many innocents. Raj has managed to disrupt the kiln of several people residing here, who are trying to eke out a living. They are being targetted simply because they are non-Marathis. Hasn't he burnt taxis and buses?"

Both girls vehemently nod their head in denial. By now, my Marathi-Tamil colleague has turned her back towards me. I say nothing. I turn towards my Gujarati speaking colleague, and she cannot ignore me either as I am too close to her face.

Me: "The problem is that we choose to let him continue his non-sense. Do you think Mumbai can ever be the Mumbai it is, without the non-Marathi people?"

Gujarati speaking colleague: "If u go to Bihar, you will have to speak in their dialect. That's what he is asking here too - that non-Marathi speaking people should abide by the culture of the Marathis. That's all he wants, which is legitimate."

Me: "Why should I abide by justifications laid down by Raj? Ain't I a free citizen? And Mumbai is not rest of Maharashtra, where only Marathi is spoken or Marathi culture is observed. This is a cosmopolitan place. People come here because it is cosmopolitan, because it offers them opportunities."

Gujarati speaking colleague: "But the Marathi manoos doesn't get jobs because the Biharis have taken them! There are apparently no jobs left for the original inhabitants of Mumbai!"

Me: "The key word here is 'apparently'. And why wouldn't others take up the jobs? Why should anyone stop them? And Mumbai has enough resources and jobs for all. Why doesn't the Marathi manoos take them up?" 

Another Tamil speaking colleague interjects. "The Marathi manoos didn't get jobs because people from other places were ready to come and do the same job for lesser pay. It is the same everywhere. The Marathi manoos is at fault. They lost opportunities due to their own laziness."

Gujarati speaking colleague agrees, but adds, "But that doesn't mean others take the jobs." 

Me: "Why not? The job has to be done. This is Mumbai, the city of dreams - dreams for all. Why couldn't the Marathi manoos come forward and take up the jobs?"

Gujarati speaking colleague: "But Raj is aware of all this. This is all politics. When he broke away from Shiv Sena, he took up this cause. He needed the support of the people..."

Me: "It is exactly this same people and their support which will help topple him down, if they open their eyes and see it for themselves. This is democracy and the government is supposed to fear its people. Not the other way round." 

She disagrees, shakes her head wildly. "We cannot correct it. Nobody can. It is all politics."

Me: "When democracy is faulty, then you have dirty politics. It is we who need to go and tell Raj that we all coexist and continue to do so without him or his intervention. We need to go and tell him that Mumbai is what it is because people from different places are here together."

Gujarati speaking colleague: "You cannot say that to him! You think he doesn't know it?"

Me: "Of course he knows it. Of course everyone knows it too. Just that Raj chooses to reinforce selective truths such that others are blinded by his words. Everyone can see it all, but they choose not to see."

Gujarati speaking colleague: "Yes, it may be true. But only the Marathi manoos, who bears the brunt of it all, can see it and feel what Raj is doing what he is doing. For them it is justified." 

By now our voices are quite loud.

My boss walks in, looks at me, smiles, and says, "Please don't corrupt the employees of this office."

I tell her, "Everyone else is corrupt in their own small ways. Even I have that liberty....."

She has already walked past me by the time I complete my sentence. And so has my Gujarati speaking colleague. I walk over to my seat as my Tamil speaking colleague tells me, "If you want to continue this debate, please go to the other room. Do not disturb me."


Moment later, the Gujarati speaking colleague reads aloud from the newspaper, "BJP is now accusing MNS of raising this SRK issue because apparently, MNS does not want to talk about inflation." She then exclaims, "What politics yaar!"

I say, "Yes.. all politics in a democracy. And the middle class chooses not to see anything."

A longer silence. And the conversation ends. We are back to ordering coffee for ourselves.

And I still don't know what SRK really said.


  1. This is far better writing... just put facts... let people judge... no need t lead anyone anywhere... good job...

  2. people are buying a lot of half-truths these days...whatever makes them feel secure...and for marathi people in mumbai it's the sena's words that provide a false solace.
    imagine a mumbai without the people who makes bollywood, the industries, the cosmopolitan feel...take these out of mumbai and there won't be much difference between mumbai and say nagaon(just a small town name that popped out) then!

  3. For people saying "people from the north are taking the marathi manoos' jobs... this should not be allowed", usually this analogy works best:

    US - Indian - BPO industry
    Mumbai - North India - taxi industry

    If someone starts with the language issue, ask them if any consumer / customer is facing any problems due to the language. In the south, where most people dont know Hindi, even Biharis and Punajbis learn Tamil/Kannad/etc. Mainly because it is impossible for them to do business there without learning the language. They simply wont get customers! Is any1 being inconvenienced in Mumbai because of the taxi-wallas not knowing Marathi?

  4. You are right priyanka its democracy.Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city.People come here from every corner.Its in india every Indian has right to do their job in Mumbai.Its only politics of raj nothing else.Its Marathis laziness so that they are not getting job.

  5. FIrst there was lunch. Then a little sleep followed by debate and that ended with coffee. What Office yaar! I am jealous.

    It will take lot of time when MNS people will graduate a step further and rather then beating Taxiwaalas and Vada Paav waala from UP, Bihar; may come and beat us up who are non Marathi, English speaking people from a higher class and probably that may not happen at all. So our fear is not as high yet and because we are yet to feel very vulnerable, we ought to chat around big words like democracy, citizenship etc. and refuse to see why the anger is boiling on the other end as it has not affected us directly yet. Raj is wrong in burning public property, Raj is a hypocrate as his own children are studying in English medium schools, Shiv Sena run BMC is closing down Marathi schools, Raj only talks about 5000 taxiwalas and a few thousand wada paav wallasas if Marathi manoos need not have better career option than these. All taken. But the point is not how well or not these Chacha-batija are taking up the issue, the point is whether there is an issue at all? And there is an issue. For every single thing we cant say as our constitution has said so, we cant do anything otherwise. Constitution was not sent by GOD, it was made by people only. And when constituion says all have right to go and work anywhere, it talks about an ideal which should be achieved and if achieved then wow! But economics comes in picture, the fire of a hungry belly comes into picture sometimes and such questions arise then. It is easier to say that if biharis are ready to work on lesser pay then marathis should also take the same pay and nobody is stopping them. In this whole debate we forget three things: 1. How corporates are benefitting due to excessive demand of labour. 2. How politicians from UP, Bihar hide their inefficiency in developing therir own states by being emotional on what Raj is doing to their people and three the civil society which either doesnt take any stand at all or takes what suits them.

  6. i meant to say excessive supply of labour, in the end....and dont call marathis lazy. This mumbai looks lively not becuase of few people like u and me, in macdees or CCD..but because of that hard working macchi waali Tai, in a 5 o'clock morning train or those passengers in second class, Churchgate-Virar fast local at 12 o'clock in the night...

  7. i meant to say excessive supply of labour, in the end....and dont call marathis lazy. This mumbai looks lively not becuase of few people like u and me, in macdees or CCD..but because of that hard working macchi waali Tai, in a 5 o'clock morning train or those passengers in second class, Churchgate-Virar fast local at 12 o'clock in the night...

  8. Dear Priyanka, First of let me thanks you for taking an effort to write this.Now let me add up my comments(as this section is for comments).. SRK NEVER said that Raj thackray is like Kasab..!! Your first paragraph said "MNS is now targetting Rahul Gandhi".For which you have your own reaction.Let me tell you that as our country is a democratic republic.everyone has right to speak & put their thoughts forward(Like you did...N IM doing it now...) Other paragraph..Raj is threat to non marathis.. Well...he already explained that he is not opposing any non marathi who isstaying here for years & respecting maharashtra's culture & language. You are comparing Raj Thackray with the terrorist just because he hit some of the taximen or bhelpuri walas..?Then what would you call other party leaders who have turned the Mumbai into some slum.What would you call those leaders who are responsible for unemployment of marathi youth"(graduates/post graduates) you expect the well educated marathi youth to drive taxis & let the 12 th pass north indians to work in railways. In mumbai people study in minoirty colleges(sindhi, punjabi, south indians, rajasthani, gujrathi), and once they come out of the college they talk against reservation of marathi ppl in govt jobs..such hypocrite ppl.. Mumbai was craeted by british and no other community helped if you want mumbai to be an actual mumbai..hope u r not calling the british back....then i would call you worse than ajmal kasab... it feels good to have mask of cosmopolitan city but nobody heed attention to marathi ppl's plights.who stay in the capital of their own state....and ppl think & worry about the illeagally migrated north indians..who live in illegal slums..10 ppl in 10 by 10 feet room.Good going. The reservations of jobs..working against illeagal migration is laready there in the consitution , and Raj tahckray is abiding to the constitution. you ask why dont marathi maanoos come and take up the job....because..south idnian resautarants ppl have their lobby so they call ppl from soth india......the labouer are from north theyw ork on very poor dailt wage(1/5th of the actual).. One question..why are against the reservations things when reservation are apllicable throughout india in every state. Mumbai is cosmopolitan?? at the time of freedom.the marathi population of mumbai was 50% in 2009 it was 30%..its the largest speaking population in mumbai..and still you call its cosmopolitan?I think you need to get your knowledge right and then talk.. At the ned you will go to Raj and tell him that that you co exist.....but then..I can you frget that he and other marathi ppl also co exist!!! and they have their you have... you are saying that you will say that you can live without him and his intervention.. do you think after reading this you will still go to any mns activist and tell him anything or something...will your conscience let you do that...!! I assume your 25 yr old....after 20 yrs when ur son/daughter grows up and take admission to college..i hope he/she wont apply for minnority/linguistic show that this city is truly show that he/she and you are truly indian....and if u did that then you will be worse than ajmal kasab since u r ruining one eligible candidates/students life as he wont get the admission in turn ..ruining his parents dreams....... Hope you take this in right spirit..after all we all stay in maharashtra... Jai hind..Jai Maharashtra.....

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