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‘Do political movements need to obey the law? What about Advani rath yatra, Modi’s Godhra outrage?’

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Express news service

Posted online: Saturday , February 23, 2008 at 09:52:15
Updated: Saturday , February 23, 2008 at 10:11:43

MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 22 Respected Sudheendra Kulkarniji,

I have read your open letter addressed to me in Loksatta. I am happy to read it. Leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (not all north Indians, only those from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) and all north Indian journalists have decided to label whatever I and my colleagues, my party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena do, as "goondagiri".

It is natural. They are furious because their inter-connected economic, cultural and political interests have been jeopardized. For the first time, their uncontrolled political and cultural dadagiri has been confronted!

With this backdrop, I was happy to read your letter because, for the first time, someone has shown a willingness to discuss and debate the issues raised by me. And it is not someone ordinary but one who has handled the country's politics and culture from the Prime Minister's Office.

Sudheendraji, you have made many points in your letter. I will start with the one on violence. But before that, I would like to inform readers that I have been in active politics for about 18-19 years. I hope you don't doubt my political knowledge and experience! But to state the fact, I and my party have not undertaken any illegal, unconstitutional agitation if you consider the backdrop of the political history of our country.

Forget the country, even in Maharashtra every political party has indulged in political violence and murder at some time or the other. The levels and layers may be different. Some parties have supported such incidents on moral grounds. Such allegations have been made against many people in the present cabinet. I have neither supported political violence nor have my workers killed their opponents.

I will give you just one example. Not even a single worker has offended –– physically or verbally ­–– any mediaperson, despite the fact that the entire media (especially Hindi and English media) was spewing venom of contempt for Maharashtrians, on me and my party.

I can give you many examples of the media being attacked by enraged workers of all four major political parties in Maharashtra in similar situations. Isn't our patience and conscience indicative of a principled stance?

I have already apologised for the death in Nashik during this agitation. But it should also be kept in mind that it was an accident, not a political murder!

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena does not believe in political murders!

Leaders involved in political murders across the country come to Maharashtra to teach me ahimsa and journalists follow them and address them as "sir" and brand me and my followers as goondas. This is such an irony. I am surprised that nobody is objecting to the dirty politics being played over the death of a person.

Now, the violence.

Isn't the outbreak of spontaneous outrage in a people's movement understood? Can anyone avoid the violence or damage to property even if it does not bring happiness? Wasn't Gandhiji forced to withdraw his agitation when a chowkie was burnt at Chauri Chaura?

Besides, even after all this, was the violence and damage to public property avoided in the 1942 agitation? When people become furious, their response is the same, whether it is the Congress or the African National Congress.

Sudheendraji, as you are a former communist, you must be aware of crores of deaths and political murders during communist movements the world over. People's movements are a repetition of history to some extent.

Besides, do political movements need to obey the law? Political history learnt by me tells me that breaking the law, getting arrested, braving lathis and getting jailed are symbols of a principled agitation.

In recent times, the rulers and opposition parties indulged in movements of political compromise, in which morchas are taken out, the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties are decided. Then the protesters and their companions go home and sleep peacefully! This is called todbazi (compromise). The word political movement is an equivalent word for breaking the law!

Tell me, Sudheendraji, was Bihari MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy not aware of Advaniji's Rath Yatra when he chose to criticise me on the grounds that my agitation was unconstitutional, destabilising for the nation, sectarian? How many people died then? How much was the violence?

But didn't Advani pursue his campaign to make his point? The Bihari babu in Rudy seems to have woken up. I don't remember Rudy mustering courage to register his protest during the Rath Yatra or with Narendrabhai Modiji when our Gujarati brethren were outraged after the Godhra incident.

It means that everyone wants MPs and MLAs from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to dance on the chest of Maharashtra. Because they know that Maharashtra's MPs and ministers in Delhi will not utter a word! The only thing remaining is Maharashtra government issuing an ordinance to compel every Maharastrian household to accommodate at least one bhaiyya from UP, Bihar and if not done, to brand such Maharashtrians as against the constitution!

Raj Thackeray and his party have become a hurdle in all this which is why they are ready to crush us. Sudheendraji, I have never opposed, do not oppose ordinary workers from U.P. and Bihari. Would I have spoken if chhatpooja was an ordinary religious pooja?

Gujaratis celebrate Garba in Maharashtra with a bang. We also enjoy it. Bengalis celebrate Navratri. We too participate in it. South Indians perform Ayyappa's rituals and Marathis pray there. But chhatpooja is not just a religious festival. At least it is not celebrated as one in Mumbai.

It is an akhada (wrestling ring) erected on Mumbai's chest by Bihari leaders to show their strength. There lies the root of our opposition. Sudheendraji, are you aware of any widespread chhatpooja being celebrated by Biharis living in Mauritius, Dubai or any country close to the sea?

How can you compare chhatpooja with Ganeshotsav? Ganesh is acknowledged nationally and internationally as Vighnaharta (the remover of obstacles). When Maharashtians living in other states celebrate Ganeshotsav, do they invite Pawarsaheb (Sharad Pawar), Munde (BJP leader Gopinath Munde), Balasaheb (Bal Thackeray), Vilasrao (Vilasrao Deshmukh) or Sushilkumar (Sushilkumar Shinde) to deliver fiery speeches?

Do Maharashtrians use Ganeshotsav to establish cultural and political supremacy in that state and make it a cultural vassal state? If any Maharashtrian is doing it, I object to that. But Maharashtrians never do it. Except people from U.P. and Bihar, migrants from other states do not indulge in such feudal activity.

States like Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are also in the north. Maharashtra has no objection to them because migrants from these states behave responsibly. I agree with you that India is a country of bouquets with flowers of different states.

But if a flower of one colour is rubbed violently on the petal of another of a different colour, it will damage both. There will be no manomilan (amalgamation). Nobody should do it.

I and my party were not against the common man from U.P. and Bihar, but when this common man comes to Maharashtra to prove the dadagiri of leaders from U.P. and Bihar!

Well, what is the history of such leaders? We would have followed their model if they had made U.P. and Bihar progressive states and created paradise. But these leaders have exploited the poor man there and impoverished these states by bringing in a mafia culture. What are these leaders saying here? "Take action against Raj Thackeray because he is a goonda!"

Sudheendraji, how could you fall prey to the disinformation campaign of leaders and journalists from U.P. and Bihar?

I will give you just one example, after reading which you and the whole world will realise how these leaders and bhaiyya journalists indulge in false and poisonous propaganda.

You have said that I have blamed Amitabh Bachchan for singing the "Chhora Ganga Kinarewala" song from the film "Don". It is totally false.

Bhaiyya journalists from U.P. and Bihar, who address Amar Singh as "sir, sir" have spread this venomous story all over the country. Am I mad to blame Amitabh for singing this line in "Don"? If that were the case, I would have demanded his arrest for acting in "Don"!

If I had to indulge in something foolish, I would have stooped to Lalu Prasad Yadav's level. Do you know the truth, Sudheendraji? Amitabh Bachchan delivered a speech and I have the clipping. I can show it to you.

He said, "Mai Dilli raha, Calcutta raha, Mai Bambai (not Mumbai!) raha. Phir bhi meri pehchan, chhora Ganga kinarewala hi hai".

My only observation was that if such a great hero feels love for Uttar Pradesh despite what Mumbai gave him, then what is wrong if a small man like Raj Thackeray feels love for Maharashtra?

I have the clipping of my speech with me. Isn't this enough to prove that such venomous propaganda has misguided a media stalwart like you?

Which Maharashtrian does not love India?

This love is not limited to just bursting crackers after India wins a cricket match, but is as vast as the Sahyadri rushing to help the Himalayas whenever there is a shadow of foreign invasion. Have Maharastrians failed to think about the country?

In fact, Maharashtrians have always thought of the country first, before they think of their own region. My chest swells with pride whenever I say Jai Hind. But nobody should forget that my Maharashtra is a part of India. It has its own culture, its own identity.

Nobody should forget it.

A guest is welcomed if he adjusts himself to the host's house. But if he tries to change the host's house through dadagiri, we won't tolerate it. And no means no!

I am proud of my workers for their struggle! Please don't call it 'Rada' (hooliganism) by giving old and historic references. They hit the streets to protect their own language and culture. Police are visiting their houses again and again and beating them up like cattle to punish them for protecting their language and culture.

They are tolerating it quietly. For whom? For Maharashtra! For India! It is fashionable for intellectuals here to blame my party for the unsolved problem of Marathi identity. But am I or my party responsible for it?

And if it has not been solved, is it wrong to struggle for it? For several decades, the mind of Maharashtrians is struggling to solve the Belgaum border issue. There have been several struggles on several levels. But the problem is where it was. Now, are you going to suggest that Maharashtrians should keep quite by presuming that the problem has been solved?

Whether it is the question of Palestine or Tamils, European countries and dada countries like America and the U.N. have not been able to solve them for several decades. Have they given up their efforts to solve these problems? Or have they withdrawn by presuming that the problem does not exist?

And your last point, Sudheendraji. You have said that I was tempted to launch this agitation in order to get instant and wide publicity for my party. Some arrogant journalists and intellectuals have called it a political stunt.

Sudheendraji, frankly speaking, I am not interested in publicity, impact, political benefits and votes. Such success is easily got by political compromise. I don't speak to journalists for months together.

I organise meetings and study developmental issues. Journalists then ask 'has Raj Thackeray formed a political party or an NGO?' When I concentrate on organisational matters and ignore other immediate things, journalists ask 'is Raj Thackeray building a party or a house?' (which is my means of livelihood). Then, when I respond to my inner voice and hit the street, journalists say 'this is Raj Thackeray's stunt for publicity'.

Sudheendraji, I have learnt to digest all this. I only respond to my inner voice. You may call it anything.

Sudheendraji, I hope you are satisfied. I have selected Maharashtra as my area of work.

Some inherent deficiencies have to be removed to make Maharashtra magnificent and progressive. For constructing a new building, some soil has to be dug for laying the foundation.

From this very Maharashtra, a great man had challenged the Mughal empire with the help of 15-50 colleagues. (I don't intend to compare myself with Chhatrapati Shivraya, lest Maharashtra's intellectuals come down on me).

The grave of the powerful Mughal emperor -- Aurangzeb -- exists in Daulatabad in Maharashtra.

Riding on the storm created by his 15-50 companions, the great man laid the foundation of an empire. That was the Maratha empire.

I pray to Shivaji to lend me and my colleagues at the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena a fraction of himself. I am ending this informal letter with the hope that you will wish us well.

Jai Maharashtra

Raj Thackeray

(Translated by Rakshit Sonawane)

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This is not good for India. by Varun on 14 Mar 2008

Anyone can move acroos the country. If any Indian, whoever he is, comes to Mumbai/Maharashtra , he is not a guest. I deny to be called a guest in any geographical part of India, with all my strength.If any Marathi comes to UP or BIHAR HE/SHE is not guest. UP/Bihar is just a small part of the mansion called India. No citizen is guest in his own country, wherever he is. As far as Shivaji is concerned, He was fighting against mughal empire. but your rhetoric is against India. Gr8 Shivaji was not fighting against his brothers. Times were different, circumstances were different. We did not have India at that time what it is today. Please don't claim Shivaji to be Marathi hero.he is a national hero like Maharana Pratap, Sughash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Rajaji, Swami Vivekananad,Sri Aurbindo,Sri Robintranath, Sachin Tendulkar and many other. People across India love, admire, respect and try to emulate his actions. I refuse to seek permission from anyone in Maharashtra, for my stay here.You might have tinge of truth in your statement.But any Chhora/Chhori Ganga/Narmada/Godavari/Krishna/Hooghly/Kaveri Kinare wala can stay wherever he wants In India with pride and dignity.He/she owns the country, but definitly-not as a guest.

Dumb and Selfish individual http://rajthackeray.wordpress.com/ by Raj Thackeray on 10 Mar 2008

Point of point reply to Raj Thackeray's reponse.http://rajthackeray.wordpress.com/

No more than an idiot by Rocky on 02 Mar 2008

are you an idiot Mr Raj Thackreay? Look at the way an intelligent person has asked a question and how you have ranted on and on about your political manifestation. Shame on you.

ur comments by raj on 06 Apr 2008

u are a bloody most idiot on this earth

hi. article by dhaval on 29 Feb 2008


Re. by DoesItMatter on 26 Feb 2008

Well articulated points from Raj. I am not a Maharashtrian, but would like every region in India to preserve and honor its regional and local culture.

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