February 06, 2010

Shiv Sena Tirade against Shah Rukh Khan

Shiv Sena Ire against Shah Rukh Khan

Ram Puniyani

A fortnight ago (January 2010) Shah Rukh Khan, the celebrated film star, voiced his opinion that Pakistani Cricket players should not be prevented from playing in IPL cricket League. This sparked a big row of protest from the local Shiv Sena supporters, who criticized Khan and tore the posters of his film, ‘My Name is Khan’, they also went on to say if Shah Rukh’s ‘Khan’ is awakening he should very well go to Pakistan and be there. At the same time Shiv Sena is spearheading a violent campaign, ‘Mumbai for Maharashtrians’, to which even cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, a Maharashtrian, amongst others voiced their opinion that all parts of India belong to all the Indian citizens.

Mumbai is currently seeing the turmoil around these twin issues, regionalism, and communalism in its worst form. One knows that India-Pakistan relations have been quiet strained right since the beginning. There have been three wars between these two neighbors. The people living across the borders, with relatives on either side have been moaning with pain and anguish due to this strife between the two countries. Many issues have been a bone of contention between the two neighbors, the major lately being terrorism.

Terrorism needs to be understood in its depth if it is to be eliminated. The roots of this terror lie in the politics of oil, creation of Madrassas on the soil of Pakistan to train the Al Qaeda terrorists by US. US wanted to confront the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970s. This Al Qaeda was created by indoctrinating the Muslim youth by instilling distorted version of Islam. Osama bin Laden was brought in again by machinations of US, same Osama was given millions of dollars and tons of armaments to join the anti Russian forces.

After the defeat of Russian forces this indoctrinated outfit turned against others in the region. It did create havoc and continues to torment the region. It has been like a Frankenstein’s monster, which has misused the identity of Islam for the acts of violence and currently Pakistan is the major victim of this monster.

While the terrorism’s base might be in Pakistan, it is not the Pakistani state, or Pakistani people or democratic elements that are supporting this poisonous cancer. As such Pakistan lost her ex Prime Minster and regularly we see the acts of terror in Pakistan. To eliminate this cancer, the civilian Government in Pakistan is trying its own bit, but the Military-Mullah complex in Pakistan, patronized by US, is the one, which nurtures this phenomenon. While we are fully justified in condemning terrorism, calling upon civilian government to control it, it is also true that gestures of friendship to Pakistan will strengthen civilian government and eliminate terrorism in the long run. So peace with Pakistan has to be strengthened through music, sports, business and educational exchange. A Hate campaign between the neighbors will be harmful to the interests of both the countries.

So while anger against terrorism is natural, we can’t ignore the deeper dynamics of the region and shun peace. Peace is the pre-requisite of progress of the region. The insinuations by Shiv Sena against Shah Rukh, asking him to go to Pakistan, just because his name is Muslim, is against the values of Indian Constitution and the spirit of the National movement, which built the country. The divisive nature of regional politics is to be condemned through and through. Our concept of citizenship is not based around religion. People of all religions are equal citizens of the country. To doubt the patriotism of any citizen just because of ‘one’s religion’ is the insult of Indian Constitution.

Same way, while appreciating the fact that the metros like Mumbai can’t accommodate the population beyond a point, there is also a need to introspect as to why so many people migrate to Mumbai? As such, it is lop sided development of the country which forces people to migrate to such a metropolis. So while demanding a curb on Shiv Sena for its hooliganism and anti national utterances, one also has to focus attention for a pattern of development where people don’t have to migrate just to survive. That’s where the crux of the matter is.

Shiv Sena has a complex history. It was supported by industrialists and partly nurtured by a section of Congress leadership decades ago. The idea then was to smash the left trade unions, which were struggling for workers rights in an honest way. Later the same Shiv Sena attacked the South Indians, then Gujaratis and finally North Indians for sometime before jumping on the Rath (chariot) of Hinduvta spearhead by BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani. Shiv Sena has been the most firm ally of BJP and its communal politics all through. Shiv Sena’s supremo Bal Thackeray has also been indicted in the Srikrishna Commission report, a report which has been put into cold storage by the Congress government. Interestingly Shiv Sena, SS, presents its role in Mumbai violence as being that of protecting Hindus, a formulation which is from the World of make believe, which presents victim as the culprit, as Shrikrishna Commission makes it very clear.

The methods employed by Shiv Sena earlier and MNS (Maharashtra Nav Nirnman Sena) of Raj Thackeray show the parallels with the ones’ employed by Hitler’s foot soldiers, i.e. to intimidate people through street violence. In this direction on regular basis Shiv Sena in particular attacked artists, Gulam Ali, a Gazal singer from Pakistan, M.F. Hussain, a Painter, and now Shahrukh Khan. In these ‘storm trooper’ methods it SS had been associated with the parallel ones from RSS stream, Bajrang Dal etc. The idea is to vandalize and make a glaring attack on liberal values of democracy. While outfits like SS, MNS and Bajrang Dal are fascists, they use democratic space, the lapses of opportunist centralist politics to come up in the social space. Hitler also used the democratic space to come, to abolish the democratic space itself. The analogies of such formations with Hitler, fascists are too glaring to be ignored. They are a product politics of vested interests, taking advantage of centrist formations like Congress and than turning into Frankenstein’s monsters.

With Bal Thackeray trying to pass on the mantle of his fascist politics, Uddhav and Raj, son and nephew respectively, claimed the inheritance. Bal Thackeray decided to anoint his son Uddhav as the heir apparent. Peeved by this the more aggressive Raj launched his own outfit, Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena. In the formative period of MNS, Congress again played a complicit role by sitting pretty when Raj unleashed his aggression against hapless taxi drivers from North India and Bihar. This acted as the tonic for the MNS, and it became bold enough to unleash rampage time and over again. It has come to stay as a political force. The role of Congress has been very compromising as for as formation of Shiv Sena and MNS are concerned.

Shiv Sena- MNS primarily belong to divisive- fascist anti national ideology of communalism and regionalism. Their disregard for the values of Indian Constitution is there for all to see. Their politics also proves that divisive ideologies strengthen each other. Both these outfits, particularly Shiv Sena has been using both these sectarianisms for its political benefit.

Shiv Sena and its offshoot, Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena, both thrive on the divisive sentiments. The spirit of National integration is being attacked by the actions of these regional forces. We should not target our citizens in the name of religion or region. The encouragement of Hate against Pakistan is shortsighted and is playing to the crude emotions, ignoring the deeper causes of terrorism, for that the finger of accusation should point to the US policies which has been pursing its politics of control in the region and has used Pakistan as the base and ally for its ambitions of appropriating this Black Gold. One must support the rights of all our citizens within the limits of Indian Constitution and restrain the regional and communal forces for the sake of national progress.