Language chauvinism is as bad as any other sort, especially in cities that have a large immigrant population. There are two factors at play:
- Those who force it down people
- Those who oppose it even when they do not need to
Azmi says he is not fluent in Marathi and took the oath in Hindi. The script for the two languages is the same. He could have read it out in Marathi. How would it affect him if he said ‘shapath’ instead of ‘saugandh’, both of which mean oath? Part of the problem is that he belongs to the Samajwadi Party whose leader comes from the Hindi heartland, Uttar Pradesh, as do many of its prominent politicians. Azmi’s act in Maharashtra would probably affect the party’s reputation elsewhere.
Has he not put up Marathi signboards on his shoe shop and restaurants? Then, what is the need to make such a fuss beforehand so that those guys are prepared to act when the time comes? Who benefits? All of them. The MNS – with the Marathi maanus; Azmi – with the Hindi belt and for standing up for the national language; Congress – to have someone do their dirty work; Shiv Sena – for jumping in just when they were being dismissed off.
This must be noted. The media and even politicians have been too quick to end the Shiv Sena era and giving Raj Thackeray’s MNS more credit than it deserves. His party did get a few seats, but overall what was its showing? Can we not look at it in perspective? It may be a relatively new party that made its election debut, which is like welcoming a bride into her marital home. The saas will put her on test soon enough, not to forget that her training will be all thanks to her maika (Shiv Sena). Raj pits himself in opposition to his cousin Uddhav and not Bal Thackeray. It is a smart move being passed off as respect. Balasaheb has re-entered Sena Bhavan. Prince Charles, Uddhav, has to just watch as the Queen sits on the throne.
Make no mistake. Raj and the MNS have only managed to give the SS more respectability. As I have written earlier, Raj was the fall guy and will remain so. The goons are with him, but not the real ammunition.