Friday, September 04, 2009

Bhoomiputras vs the rest - "IIPM Press Release"

Whom will Maharashtrians choose to be ruled by this time? And will the MNS and its leader, ‘bhoomiputra’ Raj Thackeray, be able to sway voters by appealing to Maratha pride? Devdas Matale finds out

Formed in 1966, the Shiv Sena slowly moved away from its initial goals and joined hands with the BJP and advocates of Hindutva. One section of Marathi ‘manoos’ (sons of the soil) claimed this made them feel ignored and isolated. The Sena’s philosophies also were a bone of contention for Balasaheb Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray, who eventually quit the party to form the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). “My fight is to give primacy to the Marathi language and the Marathi manoos,” Raj had proclaimed.

He was seemingly good to his word, for there followed a series of violent protests by groups who clearly had fallen for Raj’s rhetoric about the Maharashtrian identity and culture being threatened. These narrow minded groups across the state reacted fanatically to his rabid speeches. Interestingly, later on, in 12 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats that MNS contested, the MNS had at various points taken the lead in 11 assembly constituencies, giving the Shiv Sena-BJP combine the jitters.

Many political watchers expect this “MNS factor” to figure prominently once again in the assembly elections, this given the clear fact that at the moment only the Congress has the strength to put up candidates in all 288 seats. None of the other major parties – the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena – can match the Congress on this count. This is also the view of Ulhasdada Pawar, senior Congress leader and chairman of the Rest of Maharashtra Statutory Development Board. Says Ulhasdada: “The Congress, which is the largest party in Maharashtra, doesn’t need an alliance with the NCP to do this. And though the MNS successfully poached the Shiv Sena-BJP vote bank, especially young voters, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to repeat the feat.”

Ulhasdada attributes the success of MNS to the government’s neglect of the Bhoomiputras (another term for sons of the soil). He is confident that the vote this time round will be for stability – something he feels only the Congress can fully assure.

This is how the major players are placed. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance is so far intact; and though there is a tussle going on between the Congress and the NCP over seat sharing, it is only for the short-term. Both are aware that the Indian voter is tired of intra-party bickering, and that sense lies in projecting a united front.

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008
An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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