ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Competitive 'Exclusionism'

The state has to assert itself to defeat the politics of exclusion of the two Senas in Maharashtra.

The politics of exclusion, intimidation and violence has begun to boil once again in Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai. This time there is the added edge of competition with the Shiv Sena seeking to recapture its traditional agenda from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), whose presence has led to the former receiving a drubbing in two elections over the past year.

The threats to the film actor Shahrukh Khan and the film My Name Is Khan have occupied the headlines. But there is something deeper and more worrying that is happening in Mumbai, which goes much beyond the issue of one actor or one film. If the Shiv Sena’s recourse to “outsider-bashing” is a case of reaction to the burst of popularity for the MNS in the state, the party headed by Raj Thackeray has already made it a central plank of its politics to mimic – and has, sadly, proved successful in this respect – the formative days of the older party with its rabble-rousing and pursuing a “nativist’’ agenda. The spurt of attacks on any public figure who reiterates that any citizen can live anywhere in the country (and that therefore no one can be kept out of Mumbai) and the use of the language of threats against migrants from the northern states are reminiscent of the 1960s when the Shiv Sena first went after the trade unions, and then launched its “sons of the soil” movement targeting south Indians.

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