Saturday 23 October 2010

Third generation of Thackerays & need to reinvent Shiv Sena

Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena is known for inciting mob violence, dividing citizens on communal lines and spreading hate among different sections of society.

It is not surprising that the party is once again indulging in cheap politics. Frustrated by its failure to capture power in Maharashtra due to the rise of Raj Thackeray's MNS, Shiv Sena leaders are again at their vitriolic worst.

Uddhav's son Aditya Thackeray announced that Rohinton Mistry's book Such a Long Journey was harsh on his grandfather and the clowns at the Bombay University duly obliged by banning the book that had been part of syllabus for several years.

Sena leaders can't be expected to read the book but they should have known that the writer was more harsh on Indira Gandhi for clamping emergency than Bal Thackeray's antics. The recent statements of Sena and the party's stand on burqa is once again proof of the fact that we can't afford to ignore Sena.

The ridiculous demand to ban burqa is not unexpected from Shiv Sena, given its track record. But it's time that the laws are updated and vitriolic statements or speeches are brought under the ambit of hate crime so that the guilty be punished.

It is visible to all and sundry that the Shiv Sena is increasingly getting marginalised. The Marathi manoos also doesn't care much about them. In the last 40 years, the party has hardly done any constructive work. It has targeted South Indians, Muslims and North Indians.

The Sena is against English-speakers and against Hindi-speakers also. Its leaders have acted as hooligans and its cadre has taken part in rioting. Uddhav Thackeray was expected to give a new direction to the party but he failed to revive it and now his son Aditya has taken plunge into politics.

But he should try to understand that unless he does anything constructive, he can't save the party. Forget Parliament or Assembly, even municipal polls would be difficult to win unless Shiv Sena reinvents itself and the party leaders do serious groundwork rather then restricting themselves to issuing statements and vandalism.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Pakistan dumps Urdu, plea against English as official language dismissed

The official language of Pakistan continues to be English, sixty years after partition and the formation of the country on religious lines.

The High Court dismissed the plea for replacing English with Urdu as the state language.

Technically, the reason was that the petitioner didn't appear but anyhow it tells the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan that it has yet to have a state language which is widely understood and spoken.

The founder of Pakistan Mohamed Ali Jinnah had got Pakistan on the basis of religion but he had vowed that the new state would be secular, non-discriminatory and have Urdu as its state language.

Sixty years, several 'revolutions', and coups were witnessed but Pakistan has abandoned almost everything what its founder had dreamt of.

It became a religious state. Shias were harassed and Ahmedis were declared non-Muslims. Secularism went to dustbin and Urdu is now a relic. Or the rulers of Pakistan want to keep the poor citizens carrying Urdu while the sophisticated class would conduct its business in English just like the Burra Sahibs or the White Masters.

This helps in keeping the ruler-ruled relationship. Politicians like Zardaris and their children who can speak in English and the Urdu speakers will look at them in awe. Urdu, Panjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Pashto and many major languages are spoken in Pakistan but it chooses English.

At least in India, Urdu is one of the official languages recognised in eighth schedule along with Hindi and other major regional languages. Urdu is also the official and second state language in UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Pakistan has truly failed its visionary. If the country and leaders had self-respect, they should have made Urdu not the state language but given it the status of national language. We have no right to say whether Pakistan is a successful state or failed state.

But what we don notice is that it has deviated and drifted from its path in a big way and this is another proof. Alas, leaders and citizens equally chant Jinnah's name and his photographs hang everywhere but Pakistan has abandoned and jettisoned his legacy.

Read the post: 'Hasn't Pakistan failed Jinnah'

Sunday 10 October 2010

BJP fails to take initiative on Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir verdict, loses historic opportunity

The BJP had a historic opportunity to take a lead over Congress after the High Court verdict on Ayodhya that divided land between the three claimants, but the party failed to take initiative, and once again seems to have lost the chance..

When Muslim voices in favour of reconciliation were emerging, the BJP leaders should have taken initiative and gone ahead with meeting Muslim clerics including All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Deoband and Jamat Islami, which would have put moral pressure on Muslim leadership to reciprocate.

But the BJP leadership kept mum, even looking shocked by the verdict of Allahabad High Court's Lucknow bench. Its leaders spoke in different voices, some favoured the decision while others didn't want to share even 1/3rd of the disputed land with Muslims.

Some Sangh Parivar elements and leaders of VHP, Bajrang Dal and other groups said that they would not let mosque built near the temple. By taking an initiative at dialogue and reconciliation, BJP could have improved its image and its gesture would have earned it goodwill among the peace loving Indians.

Congress was in a tough situation but BJP threw the opportunity. The parties will go to the Supreme Court and the case may take years. Meanwhile, verdict of the criminal case of Babri Mosque demolition can come in the meanwhile and some party leaders can be indicted, which will be another problem for the BJP.

The LK Advani era has gone and under the new president Nitin Gadkari, BJP had a chance to emerge as a responsible party. But it failed to rise the occasion and none its leaders could play or speak like a statesman.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Rahul Gandhi equates RSS with SIMI, confused BJP falls in Congress trap

During his visit to Madhya Pradesh, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) are equally fanatic.

The statement hit the BJP like a bombshell and its leaders issued a range of statements, some termed Rahul immature, others said he was unaware of history while some made harsh comments against the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

Such was the mad rush that almost every BJP leader spoke on the issue. Reactions ranging from 'Rahul's statement is childish' to 'it is political crime' ensured that Rahul's utterances got prominence, more so because of the heavy criticism.

The BJP-ruled government in Madhya Pradesh had set a new precedent and for the first time given status of State Guest to Rahul Gandhi during his visit. But he said that it didn't matter to him, instead, his statement that termed RSS, a Hindu fundamentalist organisation, at par with Muslim fundamentalist group SIMI, embarrassed the government.

Madhya Pradesh plays a important part in Congress' scheme of things. With a strong Dalit, Tribal and Minority population, the party wants to win the state again after two successive losses. By attacking RSS, Rahul sent a message post-Ayodhya verdict that the Congress was clear about its secular policy.

The links of Madhya Pradesh-based Hindutva groups involved in terrorist activities is well-known. While SIMI is a banned organisation and RSS has also been banned many times in the past, the comparison may not look that odd.

RSS has dozens of frontal organisations including VHP and Bajrang Dal that have been involved in communal riots and large-scale violence. But the growth of BJP has given somewhat respectability to RSS though it never participated in the freedom movement.

The BJP appeared confused as to how to react to Rahul Gandhi's sudde attack. While its leaders were speaking in different voices, dismissing him as an 'inexperiences politician' would not help. There was not a single rational or proper response fromt the party.

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi seems to be playing his cards well. By targeting RSS, the mother organisation of BJP, he has touched the BJP's raw nerve. After all, the more BJP leaders will target him, the more his political stature will rise.

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