Who ruined the liberal tradition of Maharashtra?


In the recent past, seeing the kind of statements doing rounds, the debate about the liberal tradition in Maharashtra has got rekindled. Many intellectual journalists who swear by the ‘clock’ have resurfaced. What is interesting is that these intellectuals, these journalists wake up to ‘this clock’s alarm’ at the most opportune time. It is different that these intellectuals and these journalists always turn a blind eye to derogatory and abusive statements of ‘Sanjay’. In fact, their turning of blind eye was so obvious that it could have even ashamed ‘Dhritarashtra’ from Mahabharata. Angered by the remarks passed about their ‘beloved’ leadership, this congregation, in the most civilised manner uttered abusive words and indulged in vandalism in protest. In this backdrop, there is absolutely no harm if the intellectuals and journalists re-visit and evaluate as to what was the exact reason for the civilised political scenario in Maharashtra to get ruined. It is absolutely fine even if they do not reveal their honest opinion about this review, but we would appreciate if they rethink and conduct an unbiased review.

Anyway, coming back to our subject. Maharashtra has a great tradition of maintaining cordial, polite and civilised relations with politicians from other parties keeping aside their political differences. To cite a few, during the 1966 Nagpur winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature, Communist MLA Com. Krishna Desai’s Calling Attention Notice was called

out. On that day, Com. Krishna Desai had brought his little son with him. On learning that his Calling Attention Notice has been called out, he had to immediately rush to the House. At that time, he met Jana Sangh’s MLA Rambhau Mhalgi. Com. Desai asked Rambhau Mhalgi to look after his son when he would be busy speaking in the House. Rambhau Mhalgi agreed and Com. Desai went to the House. He spoke for almost half an hour in the House and till then Rambhau Mhalgi took good care of this little boy. One need not reiterate how extreme were and are the political differences between both – the Jana Sangh and the Communist parties. But despite these differences, Com. Desai had rightfully asked Mhalgi to take care of his child. And Mhalgi had also exercised his friendship beyond their political differences with utmost affection. In those days, the people’s representatives would be at loggerheads with each other in the House during the sessions but outside the House they shared the most cordial relationship. They were often seen holding each other by the shoulders and having a heart-to-heart conversation immediately after work. Now, if anybody starts to investigate who is responsible for the recent polluting of this cordial political atmosphere, the investigating team will definitely reach Govindbaug in Baramati and Matoshree in Bandra. And then many people will be in a fix.

In fact, one need not even travel back in time. It may be recalled that almost 5 to 6 years ago, the movement for

Maratha reservation was in full swing in the state. Devendra Fadnavis was the chief minister at that time. Now, a few days ago, a female MP, against whom abusive language was being used, had come down strongly saying that verbal abuse against her is an insult of ‘stree shakti’ (feminine power). But it was this same female MP who, during the Maratha reservation movement, when some people had targeted Devendra Fadnavis and had said, “We are asking for reservation, not for your wife”. At that time, nobody felt that these statement was an insult of the ‘stree shakti’. In fact, many so-called intellectuals and journalists were not even bothered by this harsh and abusive language used by these few against the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his family.

Yashwantrao Chavan is considered to be the founder of the liberal culture of Maharashtra. When he was the chief minister, Samajwadi Party’s SM Joshi was the Leader of the Opposition. On questions raised by SM Joshi, the concerned minister had given a reply. But since Joshi was not satisfied, he had repeated the same question for the third time. At that time the concerned minister in a harsh manner had said, “Despite responding to you twice, hasn’t it still entered your head?” Yashwantrao, who was the chief minister then, was upset with this reply given to a senior leader like Joshi. Yashwantrao had instantly apologized to SM Joshi. Yashwantrao had the decency of showing respect to even his opponents.

Now Pawar Saheb, who calls himself Yashwantrao’s disciple, has also often maintained friendship beyond politics in the similar manner. But at times, even he loses his cool. It may be recalled that Raju Shetty and Sadabhau Khot had protested against sugar mills in south Maharashtra for the issue of price given to sugarcane. Due to this movement, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party supporters of the cooperative sugar mills in south Maharashtra were in a fix. At that time, Pawar Saheb had openly made a casteist statement saying, “Who is this Raju Shetty, what is his caste? He is not protesting against the factory owners who are from his caste.” God knows what kind of civilized culture was he protecting by making such a statement. The point is that this congregation who has got in action for the statement against Supriya Sule calling it the end of civility in politics, were not reminded of the same civility when Pawar Saheb had made such a casteist statement. The statement against Sule is absolutely uncalled for. Then the real question remains that do these intellectuals and journalists feel that statements against Kangana Ranaut and Ketaki Chitale were decent?

When Uddhavrao and his party’s mouthpiece criticises the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the most atrocious language, where does the conscious of these so-called intellectuals go, is a subject of research. Which cultural behaviour were NCP activists advocating when they broke into the house of BJP’s panelist in Pune or when Uddhav

Thackeray’s Sena used abusive and atrocious language against female MP Navneet Rana? Our only hope is that at least now we get answers to these questions.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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