The Hindustan Times-C Fore survey must come as a bit of a nasty shock to the indefatigable Raj Thackeray and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) lumpens. Not everyone is quite as violently enthusiastic as he and his motley crew are on Maharashtra being only for the Marathi manoos. And the majority of the respondents are clear that the state government has failed to handle the situation even though at least two people have lost their lives in the agitation led by Mr Thackeray. Will this stop Mr Thackeray from continuing his negative campaign and targeting hapless migrants, not the well-heeled and powerful, mind you? Of course not, but then there is little else that he has to offer. The deaths of innocent people make it imperative that both the state government and the Centre stop wringing their hands and speaking in elliptical terms on the need to restore peace and calm.
All this talk about the MNS campaign detracting from the cosmopolitan character of the great city is to miss the woods for the trees. Whatever the nature of a city or town, no one should be allowed to run amuck and enforce the sort
of violent parochialism that Mr Thackeray is trying to. The killing of a Bihari youth in a Mumbai bus has led to Bihari MPs threatening to quit. And, as usual, this has set off a political merry-go-round in which the real issue, that the MNS is a threat to law and order, is being forgotten.
The answer to Mr Thackeray’s brand of politics is not to threaten similar treatment to Maharashtrians outside the state. This will get us nowhere. Nor should it be to engage in competitive parochialism. The premise on the part of some political parties that action against Mr Thackeray may make him a hero is clear indication that this is more about politics than rule of law.
Given that the survey shows that Mr Thackeray is definitely not the voice of all Mumbaikars, it is unlikely that too many people are going to lose their sleep over action against him. The nation is reeling from the shock of Assam. The last thing we need is for Mr Thackeray to be allowed to run riot further in another part of the country.