Saturday, 2 February 2008

Provincialism vs. Nationalism

Raj Thackeray, formerly of the Shiv Sena, now of the Maharashtra Navnirma Sena, has chosen to criticise Amitabh Bachchan’s interest in Uttar Pradesh,even as he demands that festivals celebrated in North India and Bihar not be celebrated in Maharashtra. This is all of a piece with the Shiv Sena ideology of the 1970s--Maharashtra for the Maharashtrians. However, this kind of provincialism goes against the spirit of Indian nationalism--unlike the US states, the Indian states do not have a separate citizenship. An Indian is an Indian, never mind where he comes from and where he chooses to live and work. Moreover, Thackeray’s statements could lead to bad blood in Mumbai, between its Maharashtrian and non-Maharashtrian population. It seems that both uncle and nephew feel they can only come to power on the back of a divisive ideology. They both appear to suffer from the Lucifer syndrome--better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.

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