Sometimes, the best way to challenge a violent individual threatening the peace of the neighbourhood is to have a member of his family be stern with him rather than get ‘outsiders’ to deal with him. After losing much of its branding to the new loudmouth on the block, the Shiv Sena decided to get its 15 minutes of infamy by reiterating the old chestnut: “Mumbai belongs to, and continues to belong to, the Marathi people.”
But it’s interesting to find the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the socio-cultural mother lode of the BJP, a Shiv Sena ally, wagging its finger at Uddhav Thackeray’s goons. “Mumbai is for all Indians... people of all languages, communities, tribes,” said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, giving a fresh and welcome lease of life to the Sangh parivar’s own chestnut of an ‘Akhand Bharat’ (undivided India).
By stepping in, Mr Bhagwat is hitting two birds with one stone. First, he is challenging the silly notion that a place that lies within the territory of India can be inhospitable to Indians. Second, his organisation is taking a stand against the manufactured parochialism that appeals to ‘rebels’ without a real cause. But the Thackeray ‘parivar’ squabble between Uddhav’s Shiv Sena and Raj’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena now needs to be stopped. The prospect of a backlash in the form of ‘retaliation’ against Maharashtrians — since the way the two strains of the Sena define ‘Marathi manoos’ is unlikely to be the same as how it is defined by non-Sainiks — is real.
So for the RSS to give a stern finger wag at the goons protesting against non-Marathis is helpful not only to firm up the notion of Indians being free to work, live, drive and travel in taxis wherever they want in India, but also to help Mumbai not to return being the fishing town it once was.