It has been my party’s and my endeavour to highlight the plight of Maharashtra, its language, culture and finally that of Marathi Manoos.
We had to hit the streets in order to safeguard these Marathi interests. However, a section of the electronic media appears hell bent on maligning our cause. But let me tell you, contrary to what the media is presenting before you, these boys, my party volunteers, are not lumpen or mere hooligans. Almost all of them have sound academic, family and cultural background. Some of them are even professionals. None of them stand to gain from the struggle we have launched, nor will it offer them any incentives in their personal lives. As a leader and the head of a political party, neither do I stand to benefit in any way, personally or otherwise, from the agitation. Knowing this reality, we all embarked on the path of struggle willingly.
Then the question would arise – why am I doing all this?
I will try to answer this in the following way.
When all the north Indians migrate to Maharashtra, they come with a certain intention. That of dominating the locals. They forget that every region has its own rich language and culture. As a dignified host, Maharashtra has been welcoming these ‘guests’ for many years thinking that they too will return the favour by being kind guests. Unfortunately, Maharashtra has found its belief misplaced. Let us understand this.
Any person from UP and Bihar, political leader, journalist, student, actor or a fisherman, is forced to leave his homeland and come to Maharashtra out of sheer desperation and an urge to earn a livelihood. In their native places these people are prisoners of their own political leadership, which is bankrupt to say the least. Once in Mumbai these very simple, poor men start flexing their muscles. This migrant does not feel it necessary to learn the local language nor does he want to respect the local culture. Many of us might have experienced this in our daily life while dealing with the rickshaw-wallah or a cabbie driver or even it could be an artist born in UP, Bihar (Read: Amitabh Bachchan). Our culture of tolerance makes us forgive or ignore the arrogance of our guests. Can a Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Tamil or Oriya person be similarly kind to those who antagonise their culture? This is a question to ponder.
With this atmosphere around us, can we say our tolerance is a virtue?
When every other language group is out to take over, by design of default, our very own culture, will it be right sitting pretty doing nothing? In many of my speeches and even in private conversations, I have many a times requested with folded hands the people from UP and Bihar to respect, protect and preserve the local culture, especially as it has cared for them well. All my efforts in this direction have proven futile.
The audacity of these migrants is such that they have now started importing leaders, like Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav etc, who have looted and ruined their own homelands in UP and Bihar. Now they have started preaching us local Marathi the Indian Constitution and the importance of patriotism. Emboldened by our apathy they even have put forward a demand to give Hindi the official status for transacting business in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Is it not a backdoor way of imposing Hindi on us? If we agree unknowingly the day is not very far when similar demand will come for Maharashtra.
In this situation which other State, except Maharashtra, will have Marathi as its official language? Our forefathers redrew the maps of the States in the sixties based on language. The idea was to encourage local language and culture to grow. What happens to these principles when we allow Hindi’s ascend in Maharashtra? Do you want us to get permission from UP-Biharis in Mumbai to support the Marathi’s cause?
Time has come for you all to understand these larger anti-Marathi designs. Look at the happenings around. Festivals like Chhat Puja and Uttar Pradesh Foundation Day have already made their way in Mumbai and many other cities. Hindi-speaking people have started dominating various spheres of our life. The very same poor rickshaw-wallah, chukkiwala or cabbie driver have now become a part of a grand design that will rock our Marathi foundation.
Having realised the gravity of the situation I decided to confront. This is the reason my colleagues and I launched protests to save Marathi culture. I have no objection whatsoever, for these people making their home in Maharashtra. My objection is to use these innocuous migrations for political gains which eventually destroy Maharashtra’s own cultural fabric.
And I am not saying this from a narrow, political viewpoint. I have a larger picture in mind – Maharashtra being an engine of growth for the entire nation. Locals have maintained this engine well, oiled and in running condition. If it malfunctions, the whole nation will be affected. If the local ethos is disturbed, it will affect the engine’s performance. And soon Mumbai and Maharashtra will be like Patna and Bihar or like Jaunpur and Uttar Pradesh.
Many cannot overcome the temptations of comparing the campaigns launched by the Maharashtra NavNirman Sena with the one taken up by Shiv Sena in its formative years. Even if these two campaigns appear alike, they have some very basic differences. The Sena’s campaign then was for jobs for the poor Marathi people. As against this our campaign today is to protect the overall Marathi culture from the political hooliganism of the North Indians, specifically the migrants from UP and Bihar.
The fight against this cultural and political domination is not a straight-forward one. It is multi-faceted. Regardless of the party that is in power in Maharashtra, the leaders of all political parties in UP and Bihar control our chief Minister via Delhi. Isn’t it an insult to the 12 crore Marathi in the State? But when it comes to the States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Assam or Kerala, Delhi has a different approach. In their case Delhi won’t dare control the situation because it is aware of the pride locals have in their own culture, unlike Maharashtra which is too tolerant.
Today, the Marathi manoos is prosperous. His contribution to the development is acknowledged all over the world. Many have made a mark globally. But we have to be politically vigilant. Here comes the role of my party, the MNS. My colleagues and I have decided to dedicate our political careers to address this issue. I know, many may not agree with me. But I know their children and grand children will thank me.
Politics is not the only area I like to be in. I have set up a think-tank and the Academy in Pune to look at the issues plaguing development and to bring in a fresh perspective to the process. I recently had organised Marathi poetry recitation and Marathi book festival at Shivaji Park, the place normally reserved for political muscle-flexing. But Marathi poetry will survive only when the Marathi language survives, and the Marathi language will be alive only when the Marathi culture is alive and strong. And when the Marathi culture is strong, only then will there be real Marathi politics.
I’m here to protect this very same Marathi culture and Marathi Manoos.
With enlightened people like you supporting me, I am very much sure, we will succeed.
No law, no force is strong enough to douse the Marathi Fire.