Just as Turkey was branded in the last century as the ‘Sick Man of Europe,’ the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray would like to label Bihar as the ‘Sick Man of India.’
“Ek Bihari Sare Bimari,” was the title of his editorial in Wednesday’s edition of Sena mouthpiece Saamna, which described Biharis as “unwanted lot” in all parts of the country. The editorial evoked strong reaction from MPs from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Parliament and a notice for breach of privilege has been given by them to the speaker Somnath Chatterji.
On Thackeray’s part, it was a clear attempt to reclaim the Marathi Manoos agenda, which was hijacked by his estranged nephew and Maharashtra NavNirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray by his anti-North Indian campaign.
The excuse was provided by heated debate in Parliament on Tuesday, during which an MP from Bihar reportedly said the brains of Mumbaikars are rotten. Thackeray Sr wrote that Biharis are “not wanted either in southern India, Assam and also Punjab and Chandigarh. The Biharis have antagonised local populations wherever they have settled. The Uttar Pradesh and Bihari MPs have shown their ingratitude towards Mumbai and Maharashtra with an anti-Marathi tirade in Parliament.”
“They (Bihar MPs) say that Mumbaikars’ brains are rotten, they don’t have their country’s interest in mind, but such a stand by these MPs will trouble their brethren in Mumbai,” Thackeray said in the editorial.
The campaign, originally launched by Raj, received support of a section of local people, and a few Marathi film and theatre artists too have come out openly in support.
The development unnerved the Shiv Sena leadership, which survives on the support of Marathi Manoos.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, when asked for his reaction, said the contents of the editorial were being examined by the legal experts to decide whether any offence is committed.
“Even if the editorial has upset a particular community, or created a law and order problem, unless we know what section has been violated, we cannot take action,” he said.
Meanwhile Raj was slapped with another gag order, this time by Pune police.
Mumbai police too want further extension of their gag order, which expired on March 3.The Bombay High Court as well as the sessions court have upheld the validity of the gag order.