The Mumbai episode is an interesting specimen for students of politics who would like to observe the patterns in Indian political scene.
The 3 major lessons are:
1. Rahul Gandhi won’t spare any opportunity:
To be precise it should be said that the strategists who does the choreography are keenly watching each and every happenings around the country and they will definitely set the stage for an action with Rahul in the lead role. So it was the worst political move from the Shiv Sena side to let him take the center stage, that too in their strongholds.
He made right use of the opportunity with clean and neat execution of a PR plan. Though I have reservations in admitting him as the ‘future’ or ‘hope’ I don’t hesitate to congratulate his strategists (if it’s himself then him). My reservations/concerns has nothing to do with what I’m going to write today.
2. pro ShivSena consolidation?
I strongly believe that it is premature to write off the Shiv Sena and the power of their dirty politics. The most scarce element among people is memory, especially when it comes to politics. They tend to believe that what they see is what is real. Fortunately or unfortunately that is not the case most of the times. The art or science of understanding public consciousness and general will still remains untamed to most of the political scientists, let alone commons.
Many a times people tend to forget that Senas are still a power to reckon with in Maharashtra if the recent assembly election results are conveying any truth about the above mentioned general will. ShivSena had bagged 44 seats and their ally BJP 46. MNS ended up with 13. And don’t forget that the Senas were fighting each other !! Also the ideology of “Marathi Manoos” is not at all new though the targets were not ShahRukh Khan or Rahul Gandhi. All these figures and facts tell me that there was a strong affinity among the people towards the Sena theses as recently as October 2009 which is just 3 months ago. I agree that there was stronger affinity towards the INC+NCP alliance but it will be a mistake if we ignore the significant influence of the Senas in almost half of the electorate.
In fact things have turned to the Sena’s advantage, I think. They can keep their ranks closer to the party through this controversy. Above all the whole episode acted as a catalyst in amalgamating the cousins!! Now they can work together, stronger than ever, waiting for Pakistan cricket teams next visit or a PSC exam..
How can I leave the most crucial factor in the potential pro-ShivSena consolidation? It is nothing but the BJP’s stand. Albeit having a chief who hails from Maharashtra the BJP has shown political maturity to disapprove the Senas’ stand in this issue, and ONLY in this case. Don’t read it as a branch-off.. The RSS too, despite the Nagpur factor, has disapproved the Thackereys’ stand. May be because they are not as ‘humble’ as the Senas to confine themselves in Maharashtra. (To the surprise of many, there is a state unit of ShivSena in Kerala..!!).
The bottom line is, I really doubt how much influence Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai had on the people on the other side of it.
3. So which is the biggest problem in today’s India?
It was the issue of Right to Expression which lead to the whole drama. I have no hesitation to call these as political stunts. A careful analysis on the development of this issue makes one thing clear. Rahul Gandhi tried to woo the Bihari students by mentioning the native place of the 26/11 NSG commandos. (By the way, do we know whether they were really from UP/Bihar? ) As expected it received warm reception from Mumbai ka Tigers.
Let me remind another set of headline catcher. Way back in August/September 2009, when a large part of India was starving due to an intense drought the media as well as the netizens were busy discussing the so called austerity drive!! There were couple of train journeys and economy class flights at that time too which nicely covered up the ground reality!!
This time it is the skyrocketing price rise. Food price inflation is not giving any signs of coming down. Government is in a blame game. “It will come down ” says the PM. But, not to my surprise, this is NOT AT ALL an issue among the urban elites. After all, who cares!!!!