I dont agree that Lalbaugcha Raja is the Ganpati from a certain Ganesh Galli in Central Mumbai which was the district for the labourers and their families who stayed in choc-a-block in the chawls whith overcrowding,filth and unemployment .Lalbaugcha Raja was the poor mill worker from Lalbaug and Parel area who was the central protagonist in the great story of development of this island city Bombay as it was then called.A certain local hero by the name of Krishna Desai was the boy who was leading the movement of equity on behalf of the mill hands.Alas he was brutally murdered by a handful of select men who were the goons hired by the mill owners and the revolutionary story of middle classes in Mumbai was nipped in the bud.Those associated with the socialist movement in the working classes of the central mumbai have never forgiven the perpetrators and the coterie behind it.
The systematic closure of the mills were dictated by reduced profitability of the cotton fabric and its demand abroad as much the rise of viscose yarn.The workers were sidelined and never given pay hikes and actually suffered humilation and injustice meeted out to them.The rise in real estate value of closed mills was now seen as a golden opportunity and the government put the NTC in the picture to armtwist the mill workers out of the deals for the land.Maharashtra suffered as the marathi Manoos who hailed from Konkan and Satara was pushed to back to the walls by unscrouplous trade union leaders.Slowly and steadily the mill owners who had only profits at the helm bullied the mill workers with false bottomlines and promises.
There was now a need to develop a platform to propogate false propoganda and shake the mill workers out of any profits and the deals.This is similar to the SEZ shady deals which are going in the corridors of powers between the vested interests and the government.The Ganesh pandals and the so called religious groups came in handy .They would be given a handsome donation to serve as middlemen .So the millworkers son went against the interests of their own fathers and caused sidetracking of the issues involved.Ganesh Galli was the centre stage as it became a powerful religious tool to manipulate the workers indirectly with noble sentiments for the elephant god.Enormous donations ,opulent decorations,huge collections and flamboyant advertisements all managed to make the poor people feel rich only for a few days only to return to marginalised lifestyles .Now the erstwhile millworkers are dead and their children have become whitecollared citizens and the clout has shifted to the goons and selfappointed leaders who want to rub shoulders with the powerful to make a fast buck and increase their sphere of influence as future deals and votes are counted and palns made.
This is gravely contrary to the original philosophy of Lakmanya Tilak who saw the Ganapati celebrations to form a platform for the people so that they come together against the British .And the same philosophy should have continued.As the rulers everywhere have the same agenda to expolit the masses to their advantage.The cosmetic Ganapatis have no objective except enjoyment and entertainment under the garb of talent and religion.The relevance has changed and it is high time that such celebrations which only forms a facade for the underworld be done away with and replaced with Culture Ganpati like the Environmental Ganpatis.Commercial Ganpatis have to be replaced with Social Ganpatis.And Lalbaugcha Raja has to be replaced by Lalbaugcha Kamgar where Ganpati has to depict the common mans aspirations of continuing as a citizen of Mumbai with dignity and Pride.
The important question is SHOULD SOCIAL ACTIVISM DIE AFTER INDEPENDANCE?OR ARE OUR CURRENT RULERS FAULTLESS ?The Answer is a big NO.The traditions of social activism have relevance in every society more so after independance as the responsibility is of a higher magnitude.The Ganapati is only one institution where activism can be manifest but it is an important one because it is supported by history .Unless we want to forget it.Every unconcerned person would like to forget history but every concerned citizen would like to remember history by keeping alive the institutions and not just honours and festivities .No amount of statues of Bal Gangadhar Tilak will be worth the lessons if institutions of democracy die.Ganapati is a powerful institution which is being hijaked by consumer oriented groups which have an agenda to use it for their commercial gains.This agenda needs to be thrown out forthrightly.Or else history will never forgive us including our posterity and democracy will be sacrificed at the altars of power,a very very bad omen.