October 2009
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Wake up Maharashtra!



Wake up and Make a Difference: Vote for Change!


I had gone to watch Wake Up Sid (WUS) on the first day of its release. The movie was well made, very much enjoyable and I loved it. It’s a story of a girl from Kolkata who comes to Mumbai with big dreams and no contacts. She falls in love with the spirit of Mumbai, and on her way changes the life of Sid – a spoiled kid from a rich business family. When she comes to Mumbai, she finds her first friend in Sid, whom she sends an email calling him “my first Bombay friend”. I wondered why she called it Bombay and not Mumbai; but it was understandable. She was a Kolkata girl and people from outside Mumbai very often call Mumbai as Bombay even now. (We Mumbaikars now use the word Bombay very scarcely). But as the movie progressed, even she used ‘Mumbai’ for the city, and the magazine where she and Sid were working, was called ‘Mumbai Beat’ and not ‘Bombay Beat’. The use of ‘Bombay’ or ‘Mumbai’ was hardly worth noticing, because one very strong story line showed how large hearted and always partying the city was! Even though I agree with the positive aspect of Mumbai that the movie showed for Mumbai, I found it heavily ‘glamorizing’ the city. Next morning, the last thing I expected to read in the newspapers was: some MNS vandalizing the WUS shows in Mumbai and some theatre in Pune canceling the show out of fear of violent protests! I thought – its time for Maharashtra to wake up!


Many of you won’t have given much attention to this issue, because this was a naïve one when compared to the larger track record of MNS – beating up poor taxi drivers after calling them ‘outsiders’, spitting venom against some residents after calling them ‘North Indians’, and inciting and carrying out ‘regional riots’ against those which don’t carry a Marathi surname. And all this in a city where the only religion is ‘money’! This WUS episode is also not worth being taken seriously because it was carried out keeping the Assembly Elections in mind. But let us now do the unexpected – let us think for a while for Maharashtra. Who will people vote for on this Tuesday, the 13th of October?


In my personal opinion, it should never be the MNS. A party which has so much ‘time’ and ‘energy’ to waste on trivial issues like one dialogue from one of the hundreds of movies made to catch if it has any use of the word ‘Bombay’ certainly has too short a vision for too big a state like Maharashtra. The party which inspires people from the land of great Hindu warrior Shivaji to beat up innocent unarmed taxi drivers with sticks and rods is not only criminal in its core but also demeaning in its morale. Then comes the Congress/INC. If MNS is the voice of some petty chauvinist thugs, then Congress is the mastermind. It’s the INC which has been using Raj Thackeray and his MNS to weaken the clout of Shiv Sena which is the original party with touch to the ‘roots’. I have watched news of regional rioters go on from one to the next targets spoiling the image of right minded Maharashtrians while the Congressi government of Maharashtra has kept a numb and comfortable silence. Even if we judge the parting government by its direct deeds and misdeeds, then also there is no reason why Maharashtra should give them a second term. Scores of farmers kept committing suicides in poverty stricken Maharashtra villages while our state government plans to build a mid-sea grand statue and memorial for the great Shivaji (spending some hundreds of crores of rupees to appease the people) – there can’t be any action more corrupt than this. And how can we forget the complete disaster that they did for us when the terrorists chose to hit Mumbai? The policemen fought armed terrorists with bare hands, sticks, and even by throwing chairs at them; while the bullet-proof vests of our brave hearts were substandard enough to let the terrorists bullets pass through them. And then, our chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh did an elitist terror-tourism, visiting the gutted Taj Mahal Hotel along with some of his friends from Bollywood; no one had shown harsher contempt to Mumbai than him. (And then the Congress govt chose to hide the investigating committee report) Be it food prices, industrial climate, healthcare, or security – this government has failed our trust a long time back. I guess only some pockets of loyal Congressis and some fractions of Muslims and Christians (who are its vote-banks) would vote for Congress. I don’t trust NCP; and its future is not certain. From the perception the party has given so far, it seems it will sleep with any other party/alliance – as the only core value they have is ‘opportunism’. Hero-worship of Sharad Pawar and family would be the only other mark. I believe Shiv Sena – BJP combine would be the best option for the next 5 years. Why Shiv Sena when it is in fact ‘mother’ of all regional chauvinism? It’s because it is not fighting as standalone but is a partner of a national party BJP. Shiv Sena’s any act of regional chauvinism, and any hostile tendency against so called ‘outsiders’ (which the party has shown many times in its history) would be countered and balanced by the BJP – a party which is answerable to the larger India. Shiv Sena may also be family or surname driven party because Uddhav Thackeray is the son on Balasaheb Thackeray, but Shiv Sena’s family-business is different from Congressi dynastic rule which would eliminate any one which raises voice against the Nehru/Gandhi family. Shiv Sena – BJP combine had been in power in the past and hence they have the necessary experience and expertise. The combine is young, non-corrupt, and most importantly – the combine is ‘hungry’ to make a difference. Maharashtra should use their hunger to make a difference for the state. SS-BJP have been waiting for long, watching in horror the corrupt and numb Congressi government doing nothing when faced with so much. They have the capability, the character, the drive – and most importantly – the balance, to take Maharashtra forward.


Let us see if Maharashtra wakes up in time or not.