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Can the idea of India pass the Thackeray test?

February 8, 2010

Siddharth Varadarajan

AP DIVISIVE POLITICS: Shiv Sena activists tear a poster of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan’s latest movie ‘My Name is Khan’, outside Khan’s residence in Mumbai.

The Centre and the Maharashtra government must make it clear to the Shiv Sena that they will not be allowed to threaten Shah Rukh Khan with violence.
Now that he has come up with a radical plan for overhauling the country’s capacity to deal with terrorism and other threats to its national security, P. Chidambaram must turn his attention to a problem that none of his predecessors in the Union Home Ministry ever had the courage to deal with: putting goondas in their place.
 
 
The task is urgent and brooks no delay. After sparring with Shah Rukh Khan for several days over the Bollywood actor’s statement regretting the absence of Pakistani players in the forthcoming IPL cricket tournament and declaring that Mumbai belongs to all Indians and not just Maharashtrians, the Shiv Sena has now come up with an ultimatum: Mr. Khan must apologise or else the party will not allow his films to be shown in the city, India’s commercial capital.
For me, this contest is as nerve-wracking and stomach churning as any the IPL could throw up. Will this political tournament end with the jailing and prosecution of the Shiv Sena’s leaders and goons who are conspiring to vandalise cinema halls and beat up those who defy this ban? Or will it end with the desolate spectacle of an isolated Shah Rukh being forced to surrender before the ridiculous diktat of the Shiv Sainiks — the way dozens of artists, actors, musicians and politicians have done over the past two decades in the face of the cowardice of policemen, ministers and judges who refused to defend the rule of law?
Well placed to influence
As Union Home Minister, Mr. Chidambaram may lack direct authority to ensure either outcome in Mumbai. But with Maharashtra ruled by the Congress in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party, he is certainly well placed to influence what happens next. Asked last week by reporters for his opinion about the exclusion of the Pakistani cricketers by the IPL, the minister echoed Shah Rukh Khan in saying it was a “disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked.” As for the status of Mumbai, Mr. Chidambaram described the ‘Maharashtrians only’ thesis of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as “pernicious.”
 
 
In the face of the Shiv Sena’s latest ultimatum, delivered by no less a person than Manohar Joshi, Mr. Chidambaram should remind the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha about the rights the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizens. And he should publicly declare that not only will the Shiv Sena’s goondas and leaders be prevented from disrupting the screening of ‘My Name is Khan’ in Mumbai but that he himself intends to be present at the film’s first screening in the city.
 
 
A price Shiv Sena must pay
The Shiv Sena may be a recognised political party with an electoral presence at the state and central level but there is a price it must pay for being part of a democratic system. That price is fidelity to the rule of law and the principle of equality that is a basic feature of the Indian Constitution. For years, this party and its leader, Bal Thackeray, have tested the limits of the law by threatening and often actually unleashing violence on political opponents, trades unionists, religious and linguistic minorities and cultural personalities. Each time, the Indian system has proved too weak to defend the law.
 
 
When confronted by the mob power of the Shiv Sena, MNS or other right-wing groups, the police in India invariably give in to their demands, no matter how irrational or unreasonable, and force the targets of their illegal pressure to give up their rights. So art galleries anywhere in India think once, twice and a hundred times before exhibiting a single painting by M.F. Hussain, movie hall owners agonise over whether to show ‘controversial’ films or not, screenplay writers and movie directors allow politicians, pundits, granthis and maulvis to vet their projects before they are launched, scholarly works of history are banned because their contents do not conform with the cherished hagiography of some group or sect, writers like Taslima Nasrin are hounded out of the country by mobs who claim to have been offended by books they have never read, shops fear to stock Valentine cards because of threats by self-appointed guardians of morality and ‘Indian culture’.
 
 
The intolerance of the Shiv Sena (and now the MNS) may be the most virulent and violent but it is symptomatic of a sickness that has spread to every corner of the country. Shah Rukh Khan is a cultural icon, a face that the whole world identifies as Indian. If the Shiv Sena is able to silence him or make him take back his words by threatening violence, we might as well pack up and throw away the idea of India as a land where democracy and culture flourish. So how is this contest going to end? When confronted by mobs, each and every one of his predecessors in the Home Ministry chose the path of least resistance. Mr. Chidambaram cannot afford to fail the Thackeray test.
 

AP DIVISIVE POLITICS: Shiv Sena activists tear a poster of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan’s latest movie ‘My Name is Khan’, outside Khan’s residence in Mumbai. The Centre and the Maharashtra government must make it clear to the Shiv Sena that they will not be allowed to threaten Shah Rukh Khan with violence. Now that he has come up with a radical plan for overhauling the country’s capacity to deal with terrorism and other threats to its national security, P. Chidambaram must turn his attention to a problem that none of his predecessors in the Union Home Ministry ever had the courage to deal with: putting goondas in their place. The task is urgent and brooks no delay.

After sparring with Shah Rukh Khan for several days over the Bollywood actor’s statement regretting the absence of Pakistani players in the forthcoming IPL cricket tournament and declaring that Mumbai belongs to all Indians and not just Maharashtrians, the Shiv Sena has now come up with an ultimatum: Mr. Khan must apologise or else the party will not allow his films to be shown in the city, India’s commercial capital.

For me, this contest is as nerve-wracking and stomach churning as any the IPL could throw up. Will this political tournament end with the jailing and prosecution of the Shiv Sena’s leaders and goons who are conspiring to vandalise cinema halls and beat up those who defy this ban? Or will it end with the desolate spectacle of an isolated Shah Rukh being forced to surrender before the ridiculous diktat of the Shiv Sainiks — the way dozens of artists, actors, musicians and politicians have done over the past two decades in the face of the cowardice of policemen, ministers and judges who refused to defend the rule of law? Well placed to influence As Union Home Minister, Mr. Chidambaram may lack direct authority to ensure either outcome in Mumbai. But with Maharashtra ruled by the Congress in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party, he is certainly well placed to influence what happens next. Asked last week by reporters for his opinion about the exclusion of the Pakistani cricketers by the IPL, the minister echoed Shah Rukh Khan in saying it was a “disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked.”

As for the status of Mumbai, Mr. Chidambaram described the ‘Maharashtrians only’ thesis of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as “pernicious.”In the face of the Shiv Sena’s latest ultimatum, delivered by no less a person than Manohar Joshi, Mr. Chidambaram should remind the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha about the rights the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizens. And he should publicly declare that not only will the Shiv Sena’s goondas and leaders be prevented from disrupting the screening of ‘My Name is Khan’ in Mumbai but that he himself intends to be present at the film’s first screening in the city. A price Shiv Sena must pay The Shiv Sena may be a recognised political party with an electoral presence at the state and central level but there is a price it must pay for being part of a democratic system. That price is fidelity to the rule of law and the principle of equality that is a basic feature of the Indian Constitution. For years, this party and its leader, Bal Thackeray, have tested the limits of the law by threatening and often actually unleashing violence on political opponents, trades unionists, religious and linguistic minorities and cultural personalities.

Each time, the Indian system has proved too weak to defend the law. When confronted by the mob power of the Shiv Sena, MNS or other right-wing groups, the police in India invariably give in to their demands, no matter how irrational or unreasonable, and force the targets of their illegal pressure to give up their rights. So art galleries anywhere in India think once, twice and a hundred times before exhibiting a single painting by M.F. Hussain, movie hall owners agonise over whether to show ‘controversial’ films or not, screenplay writers and movie directors allow politicians, pundits, granthis and maulvis to vet their projects before they are launched, scholarly works of history are banned because their contents do not conform with the cherished hagiography of some group or sect, writers like Taslima Nasrin are hounded out of the country by mobs who claim to have been offended by books they have never read, shops fear to stock Valentine cards because of threats by self-appointed guardians of morality and ‘Indian culture’.

The intolerance of the Shiv Sena (and now the MNS) may be the most virulent and violent but it is symptomatic of a sickness that has spread to every corner of the country. Shah Rukh Khan is a cultural icon, a face that the whole world identifies as Indian. If the Shiv Sena is able to silence him or make him take back his words by threatening violence, we might as well pack up and throw away the idea of India as a land where democracy and culture flourish. So how is this contest going to end? When confronted by mobs, each and every one of his predecessors in the Home Ministry chose the path of least resistance. Mr. Chidambaram cannot afford to fail the Thackeray test.

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22 comments

  1. This is the real face of extemist india!!!


  2. This is the real face of extremist india!!!


  3. an eye opener for Indian Muslims.


  4. SIV SENA AND BAL THAKERAY IS THE MOST VIOLENT RACIST AND CONTROVERSIAL LEADER AS POLITICAL PARTY IN THE ASIA AND HE IS THE MOST HATRED INDIVIDUAL IN INDIA BUT THIS DIDN’T STOP THEM OF BEING THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PARTY OF INDIA NO MATTER WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT THEIR DECISION IS VERY POWERFUL THAT IS WHY INDIAN JET CAME TO BOMB LET IN LAHORE AND MUZAFFRABAD THIS IS SIMPLE TO FIGURE-OUT
    THEY WORKS AS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIA
    INDIAN GOVERNMENT IS SCARED OF ONE POLITICAL TERRORIST PARTY HOW PATHETIC EVEN BOLYWOOD MOVIE NAMES ARE PASSED WITH THEIR POSITION ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS RELATED TO PAKISTAN DO I HAVE TO TAKE NAMES I HOPE NOT EVEN SOME OF THE JOURNALIST IN INDIA OPPOSE THEM SO BUT WHEN THE VOICE GET HIGHER THERE CHANNEL PERSONS AND ANCHORS ARE BEATEN BRUTALLY IN SHINNY DAYS
    THE REAL ATANKWADI INDIA IS VICTIM OF TERRORIST PARTY SHIV SENA
    JUST GET RID OF HIM AND INDIA 80% TERRORISM IS CUT IMMEDIATELY
    SHIV SENA IS DIRTY BLACK-SPOT ON THE BIGGEST DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD
    REAL FACE OF INDIAN EXTREMIST HAH GO TAKLE THEM FIRST THEN THINK OF EVEN PLANNING TO INVADE PAKISTAN LOOSER INDIAN GOVERNMENT


  5. not just extremist
    they are the terrrorist
    Crush this bastard India ……Shiv Sena, VHP, RSS, Bajrangdaal!!


    • oh another salman goood man lets make tag team to the indian agents on this site like neel123 or rajak and take them on what ya say pal
      but first asalamoalikum from salman rafi to salman ….
      may i have the honor to know ur sir name SIR
      not just extremist biggest terrorist RAW,shiv-sena,RSS & bajrangdaal shud be bomb by pak air force in the allegation to directly supporting financially terrorism in the form of TTP fake taliban
      if Indian jets can cross international borders into pakistan in the intention to bomb LeT
      (preemptive-strikes) Pakistan has the equal and the same right to bomb ALL OF THE INDIAN terrorist groups as a lethal danger to Pakistan integrity and NATIONAL SECURITY


  6. India has never been a country and never will be. It is only the brutal Indian army that is keeping the un-natural Indian union together against the will and wish of majority of the so-called Indians. The southies are as much enemies of the northern Indians as they are the enemies of the Muslims. Naga, Tamils, Maoists are all out there to get freedom from the shameful filthy Hindu terrorist sadhus. India is bound to fail as a country sooner or later. Hundreds of millions of people can not be kept suppressed for ever. The implosion is going to come sooner than expected.


  7. if shiv sena continues like this, india will become like pakistan


    • Awesome comments 🙂


    • Right On!!!!!!!!


    • emp babu u r the shiv sena equivalent of pakistan


    • wrong again jeeves !

      Just remember this special formula ..That for every Bastard (india)..there is always a HERO 😀 – Emperor Babur a MUSLIM of This NATION of Khurasan ! (Pakistan)


      • u can rule over khurasan. india can rule over azad kashmir, balochistan, FATA.


  8. About this Articles i would just say

    MUSALMAN KO MUSALMAN KAR DIA ANDAZE HUNOOD NE…

    Plz WAKE UP Indian Muslims…


  9. It’s funny how all you lot have is hatred in your hearts and you talk about how you really want peace. Schizophrenia can be cured if caught at an early stage. See a shrink Pakis


    • Its amazing how you have so much shit piled up in ur belly and you dont talk about BUILDING TOILETS !

      Diarhea can only be cured by having proper toilets and taking some medicince..Both of which we lack in India !


    • You call it hatred ? I call it love !
      hatred for falsehood is better understood as love for righteousness. By any means necessary!

      My friend, remember one thing sometimes going to war is the only way to achieve peace.


    • @Amused or more like Self-abused

      None of us is interested in peace with India. The only solution for having peace in Pakistan and South-Asia is dismemberment of India.


    • their hatred is mostly out of jealousy. for eg. there is one guy here who is imitating me.

      but they dont undersand that imitating us or hating us wont make them indians


  10. I see a Shitty India which is already South Pakistan !


    • that will happen when USA is a part of Bangladesh


    • and stop using my name u indian-wanna-be



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