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Friday, July 14, 2006 

What would you call Shiv Sena? Patriotic or anti-national?

Shiv Sena is a political party in India which finds its roots in Maratha identity. Its major area of influence is the state of Maharashtra, and particularly its capital - Bombay. Shiv Sena is known for its hard-nosed attitude and for not budging from its position. Ever! It has taken aggressive stances and is known to defend its beliefs by organizing protests, rallies and often resorting to violence.

It is also known for its vehement anti-Pakistan stance. It believes that India should stop sucking up to Pakistan time and again, stop believing false promises from across the border, not give-in to global pressure, and not try to make things work by making diplomatic gestures of peace like the Bus to Lahore started by ex-Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee. I appreciate that. After a certain point, when the issue is not getting resolved, both parties need to stop pretending and making 'gestures'.

But what I dont appreciate is their anti-Muslim attitude and their party members' blind sycophancy towards the party. They are often willing to go great lengths to make a point, often hurting innocent people. This is where I make my point that Shiv Sena is on the verge of becoming anti-national!

Indian Muslims are as much citizens of India as are Hindus or anybody else for that matter. This open discrimination should not be tolerated, especially by the Election Commission of India. Secondly, Shiv Sainiks (as the party workers are called) often resort to violence and call off strikes and 'bandhs' as if it were their will-call!

Point-in-case, when the Party head's wife, Maasaheb, as she was endearingly called (and still is today) died, the party called for a 'bandh' in Bombay for 3 days. Bombay is the financial capital of India! Hello, wake up! Bombay contributes a large percentage (around 15-20%) of the national GDP! A few days of mourning, while quite nice for the dead one, it honestly affects quite a lot of business. It is also the same fragility of the city which is looked down upon in global markets.

But that is not it. They want their bandhs to be like a curfew. You cant get out of your house. Even if you want to go to the hospital. So if you take your car out to go anywhere during the bandh, your car will be pelted with stones, brought to a stop, and you will be pulled out in a way that would make you believe that you are really one of those Pakistanis that they hate so much, and beat up gruesomely! Even before asking where you were going. Maybe you were taking your wife to the hospital because she is pregnant. Oh well, too late! Shes probably dead anyways. After that, when almost nobody is coming out, they need to show their might by burning on of those red city buses operated by BEST (which is as much a lifeline of Bombay as the train system is, if not more)!

Shiv-sainiks may be the big-wigs, the hot-shots and may be the most powerful people of India. But that still doesnt give them the right to call for a bandh in Bombay. That city is as much mine as theirs. They have no right to hurt civilians and their destroy their property. Similarly BEST buses and trains are public properties and they have no right to destroy them!

Very recently a statue of Maasaheb was found to be desecrated and in an upsurge of emotion, Shiv Sainiks protested and made a big issue out of it. They stopped short of torching a BEST bus, but they still had to burn something. So they picked a tourist coach which was parked in front of Sena Bhavan - their own party HQ! This is appaling! The mature thing to do would have been to acknowledge that someone is trying to create them displeasure and they would not fall prey to it and respond by instead collecting money from party-workers and installed a new statue in the place of the old one.

By being so fragile, willing to cause violence at the slightest prick, they are falling prey to those who want to harm India. They are doing their work for them by spreading terror. From once being Bombay's strength, they have today become a liability for Bombay. The next time a terrorist wants to strike Bombay, they wont bring bombs and guns anymore. All they need is an axe and the ability to desecrate another statue. Then all the need to do is sit back and watch with gleeful pleasure as the sainiks do their work for them!

If this attitude of the sena isnt changed, there will be no difference between the terrorists who blew up 7 trains within 20 minutes in London and Madrid style attacks and Shiv sainiks who burn buses and destroy public property for their own agenda in the eyes of the common people of India! The question is, will they ever understand?

About me

  • I'm Indyman
  • From Seattle, WA, United States
  • I am a Risk Management Consultant at KPMG. Before this, I was an Investment Associate at University Venture Fund in Salt Lake City, UT. My personal interests are in venture capital, private equity, technology, real estate, entrepreneurship, investing, stocks, india, patriotism, mumbai, hanoi, vietnam and life in the united states.
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