Karela Fry

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Who wants to break up India?

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There are two sets of forces trying to destabilize India. One set is the shadowy structure behind the well-recognized threat of Islamic terror cells. Investigations lead to these cells, with arrests and convictions, but the structure behind them persists as of now. The exodus of a large number of people of the north-east from various parts of India seemed to have been initiated by such a structure. Huge losses to businesses are a little mentioned part of the story.

The other set of destabilizing forces consists of extremist political parties whose action threatens many others in the same way, but these forces are not cryptic. They act in the open. Raj Thackeray’s MNS is one such party. Feeling very happy with himself after a speech in Azad Maidan in which he successfully confused the issue of terror cells and Bihari workers in Maharastra, he has decided to push the accelerator pedal on his favourite taxi. This ignores the fact that if he is successful, he will drive an exodus from Maharashtra and distinctly hamper business.

HT recounts:

Thackeray had threatened to brand Biharis as “infiltrators” on Friday and force them out of Maharashtra if authorities in Bihar take legal action against Mumbai policemen who picked up a teenager from there without informing their counterparts in that state.

The substantive issue is the question of jurisdiction, and IBN Live reported the correct stance taken by the commissioner of Mumbai police:

Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh today said he would try to correct if there was any procedural lapse committed by his officers while arresting an Azad Maidan violence accused from Bihar. Singh, who replaced Arup Patnaik in the aftermath of August 11 Azad Maidan violence, told PTI, “I have been told that a letter was received from the DGP of Bihar (in connection with the incident)but I am yet to go through it”. Singh said, “I know the Bihar DGP very well. I don’t think there should be any problem. Do not portray it as an ego problem or so. We had co-operated with each other and would continue to do so. In case there was some lapse in procedure, we will try to correct it.”

A smoother solution to such jurisdictional questions would have been a NCTC. Since the original proposal from the union home ministry was unacceptable to states, one might have expected a joint commission to look at it from all points of view. Unfortunately, such a thing has not happened; as so often, the baby has gone out with the bath water.

So Mr. Thackeray’s statement hits at many issues simultaneously, all of them constitutional, all having to do with the federal structure of India. Mr. Thackeray is not given to subtley; he is playing to an fragmented audience, so he needs to press the only button he knows: us against them. The “us” is well defined, the “them” can be any one at all. In his world view they are all the same.

The political fall out is obvious. TOI reports the reaction from the chief minister of Bihar:

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today charged the Centre and Maharashtra government with failing to rein in MNS chief Raj Thackeray for his threat to throw Biharis out of Maharashtra.

“The MNS chief’s diatribes against Biharis pose a challenge to all governments to deal with a person who has been holding out threat to the migrant people. People have the constitutional right to live and work in any part of the country,” he told reporters.

“It is the duty of the central government and the government of a state (Maharashtra) to take note of the conduct of a person like Thackeray and deal sternly with such elements,” Kumar said.

The deputy chief minister echoed the sentiment.

HT reports on the response from the home minister of Maharashtra:

Home minister RR Patil has decided to crack the whip on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and has assured that his Friday’s speech in which he made anti-Bihari remarks will be looked into. “The entire speech has been recorded and will be checked word by word. If there is anything objectionable, we will take relevant action against him [Thackeray],” Patil said.

So three senior ministers, from three different political parties (JD-U, BJP, NCP), have taken a stand against the MNS chief. The Congress is strangely missing from this united front.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

September 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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