POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 04, 2010 AT 23:48 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 05, 2010 00:49 IST

It's like being stuck in a bad Hindi film. The rhetoric, the invective, the insults, the platitudes are all sickeningly familiar. Even the characters are the same, sorry lot. 

Frankly, blaming the Senas (Shiv or Maharashtra Navnirman) for the current mess in Maharashtra would be a cop-out. One does not expect any different or better from them, nor are they going to suddenly turn into champions of freespeech. The BJP-RSS, with Bihar elections in mind, may have dissociated themselves from the Shiv Sena on the issue of "Mumbai for Mumbaikars" now (after being complicit in Shiv Sena's vocal hate speech for years), but the bone of contention this time around is not just about outsiders. 

It is pure and simple about freedom of expression. 

Not that the Congress-NCP has a great track-record when it comes to freespeech: be it in the matter of Mee Nathruam Bolte, James Laine or Taslima Nasreen. But because this lot pretends to be secular and liberal and claims to uphold the 'idea of India' and is generally busy acting holier-than-thou, it needs to be said that the Congress - with its ally NCP -  shares the bulk of responsibility for the mess the city of Mumbai finds itself in. 

The Congress did not just play Frankenstein to the monster of Bhindrawale in Punjab. Before that, in Maharashtra, it first allowed Uncle Thackeray to thrive, creating a cult borne out of  narrow-mindedness, parochialism, petty grievances, paranoia and fear-psychosis and then happily stood on the sidelines while the Nephew reprised the act decades later, creating a similar diversion with sheer mob-power, hooliganism, gundaagardi and street-level thuggery, secure that it would reap the electoral dividends of a fractured polity.

In between, of course were minor details such as not acting when it should and could have simply stepped in to squash strong-arm tactics. Instead of firmly ensuring that the law of the land was implemented, it has been cynically playing electoral politics. In the long laundry list of the grand old party's sins of omission and commission would glaringly rank its total inaction on the Justice Srikrishna report. By not even attempting to bring the known culprits to book, it added to the disillusionment and cynicism and oversaw a total collapse of law and order. Which accounts for the fear that grips the theatre owners and the like when it comes to a "law and order" issue. Because they know the criminals get away with impunity,  

And, of course, the fact that the Cong-NCP has been busy co-opting the Sena agenda, and its discarded lumpen over the years, is no comfort.

Yes, Shah Rukh Khan deserves total support in his right to express himself -- even if one disagrees with him on the specifics of what a great neighbour Pakistan is -- but it is ironical -- it would be comical if it weren't so sickening -- to see it come from the likes of Sanjay Nirupam, a sainik once, a Congress lackey now. Does anyone remember the leader - at least great defender - of the pack that went mooning in front of  Dilip Kumar's house when he accepted the Nishan-e-Pakistan? 

It is of course wrong to single out Nirupam. After all everyone deserves a chance to turn over a new leaf. But the real trouble is that the  rebel sainiks who now infest the Maharashtra Congress - and the NCP -  as its guardian angels - the Narayan Ranes and the Chhagan Bhujbals - and the "big city-small incidents" RR Patils and "cabbies must know Marathi" Ashok Chavans do not inspire any confidence in implementing the law of the land. And they had remained pretty much silent till Rahul Gandhi jumped into the fray and thus invited jibes -- and threats -- from the Thackeray father and son.

And of course we have the complicity of the biggest Mumbai icon and the silence that his clout engenders. Come to think of it, I am not sure what is worse -- that the Congress-NCP is so hypocritical when it says it supports SRK/freespeech or the silence of the lot taking their cues from one who is busy arranging private screenings for the likes of Narendra Modi (only for tax exemption, we are told) and in the middle of all this finds it necessary to let his fans know:

Uddhav Thakeray calls. he has just come out of the theatre after ‘Rann’ and is not able to find appropriate words to describe his appreciation for the film and the performance. Minutes later Bala Saheb calls. ‘I want to see this film. Come and show it to me !’ ‘You have not been to see me for a long time !’

I assure him I shall arrange a projection in his house. I ask after his health. He is fine he says.

He cannot travel out due to his frail condition, but the fire in him still burns. He is resolute and firm as ever and in that resoluteness you discover an endearing, that sudden soft moment, which has always made his presence so strong and affectionate. His sense of humor is in tact as he punches in some wise ones !!

Little wonder that SRK would not find many supporters from the film industry and feels pressured enough to confess: "But sometimes I get scared. It is not nice for a Hindi film hero who is thought of as an icon to say this but the stakes are very high”. He was of course talking about the commercial stakes of the film-makers and investors. At stake also is something that is even more important  --  is Mumbai going to be once again a civilised society where the writ of the law of the land runs or will it always stay in the grips of any hoodlum who can issue an ultimatum and bully his way through on the threat of wreaking violence?

(Mrs Bachchan, on her part, when asked, said that she too pretty much had to fight a lonely battle when Nephew Thackeray had gone after her for pointedly speaking in Hindi at a function)

The difference this time though is that the Sena guns have come to be trained on the man the Thackerays call "the Congress prince". If nothing else, sycophancy might make the state's moribund administration act.

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 04, 2010 AT 23:48 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 05, 2010 00:49 IST
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Daily Mail
Feb 15, 2010
03:04 PM
'Anwaar" is a nice one for calling anything that exposes the Congress hypocrisy as hysterical diatribes. All that any one needs to do is to look at his frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog and snapping in every thread barking out, "Hindutva! Sanghi!" What a loser. Outlook should seriously consider limiting the number of posts he is allowed in a day, because I can tell from personal experience that just looking at his predictable repetitious nonsense derails any topical discussion.
Ajit Tendulkar
Seattle, United States
Feb 15, 2010
12:50 PM

>> Vasant Dada Patil the Congress CM faciliated emergence and growth of Siv Sena.

Ram Chandra Guha's article in The Hindustan Times seems to be more balanced and sober than your hysterical diatribe.
Dallas, United States
Feb 15, 2010
11:39 AM
Vasant Dada Patil the Congress CM faciliated emergence and growth of Siv Sena as Congress was facing heat for influx of North Indians in Mumbai end sixties onwards.Bussiness was slipping into hands of the Gujraties.Again Congress helped growth of the MNS and even funded it in last General and State Elections.

In Mumbai the total share of Votes among MNS,SS and BJP is 45 % .Still majority of the Legislative Seats and all the Six Parliamentary seats Congress cornered.Supporting and financing MNS immensely helped Congress.Thereafter to break the hold of Siv Sena and BJP in Mumbai MunicipalCorporation the Congress Govt dusted the clause in 1989 Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Act that states that Taxi permits for the Marathi speaking persons only.The motive was to capture Sena's Marathi agenda.

Fearing breach of their Marathi citadels SivSena and MNS jumped in the frey amd highjacked Congress's Vote catcher move. Congress was trapped . Meanwhile SahRukh Khan foolishly poured oil by pleading for inclusion of Pakistani Cricketers in IPL whereas he himself did not select a single Pak player for his Kalkata Knight Riders.Reason SRK had to open his movie in Gulf Countries in a fortnight .

Duplicity was the hallmark of all !

Then Congress Govt and Sea started playing MNIK- MNIK game .Police was withdrawn from all the sensitive spots to gaurd the movie theaters to ensure that Film is released at least in select cinemas .Congress,SivSena and SRK calimed victories which were totally hollow .

Seeing the field ungaurded Jehadies moved in Pune German Bakery and gave an humiliating bloody nose.

Did India specially Congress learn any lessons from the follies committed in Punjab and Kashmir ?
a k ghai
mumbai, India
Feb 14, 2010
11:39 PM
Ram Guha in the Hindustan Times today:

In the 1970s, the Congress was prepared to tolerate the Shiv Sena, in the belief that it would undercut the popular base of its opponents on the left. Forty years later, the main challenge that the Maharashtra Congress faces is from the right. Thus, before the 2009 elections, the Congress indulged and perhaps even promoted the MNS, to cut into the votes and seats of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.

Sundeep Dougal
New Delhi, India
Feb 12, 2010
07:15 PM
ANWAAR, is the certificate for identifying your suspicious bent of mind?? Certificate ko Frame kar ke ghar me lagaye??
Bangalore, India
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