Only recently did I become aware that there is a local politician in Mumbai named Raj Thackeray and that he has been inciting people to violence to stop non-Marathi speaking people from migrating to Mumbai. The man, in my considered opinion, is a certifiable idiot and an evil one at that. But then there is nothing particularly remarkable in Raj Thackeray’s quest for votes through divisive politics. The British quite successfully implemented it and ever since political independence, politicians across the spectrum have been dividing India along regional, caste, and religious categories. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, instead of erasing caste distinctions, even went so far as to name a significant portion of Indians as “harijan” or “children of god” — thus implicitly, according to his adopted Abrahamic theology, categorized the rest as “children of satan.” The present Italian Gandhi continues that fine tradition and implements policies that discriminate against people that do not subscribe to some Abrahamic sky-god. I wonder if Raj Thackeray is going to be invited to join the Congress Party, seeing that he is a master of divide and rule?
I agree with Tarun Vijay, the editor of Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly brought out by the RSS. In a piece titled “India Bruised and Shrunk” he writes —
When a narrow, shrunken vision is preferred over a national outlook and national perspective, the Raj Thackerays emerge winners. What’s the difference between a Raj making Indians fight with other Indians and a UPA government sowing the seeds of distrust and hate among Indians on the basis of religious reservations for one community and assaulting the faith icons of the other? Or for that matter, ULFA in Assam killing Hindi-speaking Indians and outfits like Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammad murdering Hindu Indians in Jammu and Kashmir? Someone shoots from guns, another uses a microphone and the third does it by abusing constitutional authority. The result is identical – India is bruised and shrunk.
Here’s a bit more:
No politician has been ever held accountable for the national loss incurred because of his misdeeds, divisive politics and ill-governance. The more divisive and exploitative of pubic money and trust he becomes, the more votes he gets and he is hailed as a “seasoned” politician.
So why blame Raj Thackeray?
Those who get votes on the basis of dividing people and feel no remorse seeing youngsters burning themselves against their policies reap worse than the Raj Thackerays. It’s the failure of national parties and organisations that parochialism and narrow polity with a shrunken vision is allowed to play with national integration and peoples’ money. The game of de-listing, unlisting and enlisting on the basis of the colour of your thoughts divides more sharply than the buffoonery of the parochial players.
We have leaders of Yadavs, Gujjars, Jats, Brahmins, Dalits and tribals. We have champions of UP, Bihar, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and other states. If something happens to Tamils anywhere in the world, it’s the “sacred duty” of the Tamil Nadu leaders alone to feel their pain and speak up for them. When Malaysia’s Hindus of Tamil origin were persecuted, the only chief minister that spoke against it was Karunanidhi, not Lalu Yadav or Nitish Kumar. They were Tamil ‘nationals’, hence Tamils should support their cause, and similarly Hindi-speaking Indians get support from the ‘Hindi nation’ when persecuted in Assam or Maharashtra.
Raj Thackeray is not an aberration, he is the norm. The past masters of divisive politics have their names immortalized in the names of universities, railway stations, airports, national parks, industrial parks, roads, and towns. Raj merely wants his name to live on as well. In India, dividing people based on caste and religion appears to be the fast track to becoming a hero.
I recommend Tarun Vijay’s opinion piece.