Shiney Bling, Nirupam-Uddhav Sting

We have heard about people having to swallow their words, but “Shiv Sena CEO” (a TOI description) Uddhav Thackeray would go a step further with Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam:

“If he persists, we will make him swallow his teeth.”

Another version spoke about breaking his teeth, but this sounds better. So, what is Nirupam persisting about? The Congress MP, who was once a loyal Sena guy, decided he had to speak up for North Indians, obviously as a pre-electoral move with the BMC polls coming up:

“North Indians play a crucial role in Mumbai. We are told that we, Hindi-speaking migrants, are a burden on Mumbai. This is not true. Actually, it is we who bear Mumbai’s burden…if north Indians make up their mind, they can bring Mumbai to a halt.”

  1. 1. I am not sure if this can have any major impact on local polls; most of the immigrant workers are registered in their villages and towns and do not vote, so they are not a real vote-bank in the next level assembly elections. It only helps the politician to give a more cosmopolitan face to the varied constituencies the city is peppered with.
  2. 2. Bringing the city to a halt should not surprise anyone because the Sena has done it in the past with its bandhs, ‘spontaneous’ strikes and its hold on the trade unions.
  3. 3. There is no single body of North Indians and they are unlikely to get together to halt the city.
  4. 4. It has become a largely north-centric fight, when there are many South Indians and Bengalis too in the city. We are dealing with regionalism on a larger scale than is being made out.

In a rather surprising move, the report states:

Uddhav has asked the Congress to clarify if it endorses Nirupam’s remarks. “Balasaheb Thackeray had, in his Dussehra rally address, warned that there was a conspiracy to delink Mumbai from Maharashtra. Nirupam’s Nagpur speech has confirmed our fears.”

Mumbai does not need to be physically/technically delinked; it already is. If the Sena is so concerned about all of Maharashtra, why is it that there aren’t too many reports of the party workers beating up someone in Satara or even Ralegaon Sidhdhi, Anna Hazare’s fielfdom? Simple. Few people migrate to the small towns and villages. It is the lucre of Mumbai that attracts people, or the illusion of it.

Like every other party, the Sena too would not want any such delink simply because they too would lose out on big icapital. How many trade unions does the Sena control in the towns, except for the industrial belts?

It is interesting that they want an answer from Sharad Pawar, the Sugar King of Satara, for they know that they have to safeguard the monetary interests just in case they come to power or can benefit in some way from kickbacks and scams.

As for the Sanjay Nirupam Congress talk, it is all hot air. Had he still been with the Shiv Sena the teeth they are threatening he will be forced to swallow would have been biting the same North Indians.

- - -

In another case about disparities, actor Shiney Ahuja is angry. He ‘features’ in an ad for a mobile company. I was put off by it when I first saw it, but for a reason entirely different from the one Shiney has sent a legal notice for: that it takes a dig at his case.

His case is that he was convicted for raping his maid and later released on bail following an appeal. The ad amounts to “willful character assassination”. It shows a young woman exclaiming, “Shiney bought me a new 'Bling' (the name of the cellphone). Her friend retorts, “He bought me one too”, flashing the handset.

Soon a phone rings and it belongs to the maid. They look surprised and more so when she says, “What? Saab bought me one.”

The ad has been taken off air. Shiney’s publicist issued a statement:

“As we know, Shiney had challenged his conviction and the Bombay High Court has admitted his appeal, which is currently pending hearing. For the mobile company to air such a commercial influencing public opinion when Shiney's appeal is pending hearing, is equivalent to contempt of court.”

Shiney and his wife have given extensive interviews where they have tried to ‘influence public opinion’. (My questions remain unchanged.) He has signed films and will be a visible figure, maybe even a good one. What put me off about the ad is not the Shiney factor, but the class aspect. It seems okay for two spoilt young women to be given gifts by the same man, but they are shocked when the maid even possesses it. Her expression is one of guilt, as though owning what the great Indian dream tells us is now a ubiquitous gadget even in the villages is wrong. Besides, a maid being given a gift makes her suspect. Why are those two women not suspect for being he beneficiaries of what the man has given them?

The company may say that it is fictional but it is obviously a dig, and if they call this humour then honestly they have yet to discover where the funny bone exists. It is time the ad companies realised that helpers have mobile phones; not all are gifts. They are available cheap. And if they are given these, it is by their employers who want to keep in touch and know what time they will report for work. This is a job necessity, not to please some saab.

It is not Shiney but the domestic help sector that should be objecting. But, of course, Shiney gets to stay in the news. By hook or by crook.

Here is the ad:

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