Main ek Hindustani hun
Me Bharatiya aahe
Whether I speak in Hindi or Marathi, the meaning remains the same: I am an Indian. I live in a free country and have the freedom to decide the language I speak and the religion I follow.
But Raj Thackeray, the founder and president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, does not seem to understand this.
Unfortunately, Mr Thackeray has done no good to Maharashtra by making hideous comments about North Indians in Mumbai. He has portrayed himself as a narrow-minded man. Not only that, he also harmed the city's cosmopolitan image. His funda is to stay in the news by creating one controversy after another.
Raj Thackeray projected himself as a true politician and patted his back for being a true Marathi by pulling the Bachchan family in a dispute for opening a school in Uttar Pradesh in February 2008.
Now, MNS has accused Jaya Bachchan for insulting Marathi sentiments after her comments in a promotional event "Hum UP ke log hai, hume Hindi mein baat karni chahiye." (We are from Uttar Pradesh and should speak in Hindi).
After Bachchans', the Shiv Sena attacked another superstar. "Mumbai made Khan a badshah [king], but he still calls himself a Dilliwala. If that is the case, why did you come to Mumbai," said an editorial in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece. It also warned Jaya and Khan "not to test Maharashtrians' patience".
Vote Bank Politics
Raj Thackeray's MNS has not been politically successful in the state. So is he trying to capture the Marathi-manus agenda and trying to win support?
"I stay in the same area in Mumbai where Saamna press is located. Blaming the famous people is sheer politics and nothing else. The MNS is trying to gain vote bank without realizing that the vote bank lies in whole Maharashtra and not just Mumbai," says Syed Ashfaque, a Maharashtrian currently working in Delhi.
He also says, "Mumbai is the Singapore of India. If outsiders don't come in the city and work the city will drown."
"It is of course politics," adds Venkat, a Mumbai-based media professional.
But I am against people who don't want to learn the language of the place they live and earn the money from. If you live in Maharashtra for 22 years, your knowledge of the Marathi language would be decent enough.
North Indians' verdict
"I have been living in Mumbai from the past eight years. I have never faced any problem. In fact the only reason I came to Mumbai for work was because I think people here are very friendly and warm," says Lovelina, an airhostess with a reputed airline.
"Now I am married to a Maharashtrian, my new extended family is also very sweet. I have never felt that I am not one amongst them but a Punjabi," she asserts.
Sanket Gujjal, a marketing professional who has recently gone to Mumbai for training in a reputed firm, has the same verdict. "Mumbai is a city of dreams; from people to food - everything is perfect. I don't understand what is with the political parties!"
"But on a different note, learning the language of the state that you have gone for work is very beneficial. It helps you to communicate well with the locals, with whom you can't expect to communicate in English or your own mother tongue at all times."
It's high time for MNS to realise that if they don't stop these shameful act non-Marathis would stop coming to the state, and as a result the India's financial capital would go down and die one day.
There are better ways to stay in the news - help the fight against terrorism or help to serve a cause. Think about it.