His name is Thackeray
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010, 13:34
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s eagerly awaited film ‘My Name is Khan’ has surely landed in troubled waters, much due to Shiv Sena’s protest over King Khan’s advocacy of Pakistani cricketers.

Nobody actually knows whether it’s a carefully-designed marketing ploy from the SRK camp to garner maximum publicity for MNIK, or his genuine utterance on excluding sportsmen of any country from politics.

Needless to say, a certain section also believes it could well be a marketing gimmick from the SRK camp since King Khan badly deserves a blockbuster in order to settle scores with rival Aamir Khan, who has recently delivered the biggest ever hit of the Hindi cinema.

Whatever one says, but the IPL controversy has given a fresh lease of life to Shiv Sena, which was devoid of its Marathi plank by MNS-led by Raj Thackeray, whose Marathi-first-agenda has got enormous support from the “real sons-of-the-soil”.

Raj Thackeray's MNS and people’s growing support to his “non-Maharastrian campaign” had dealt a big blow to Shiv Sena, which was the first party to champion the cause of ‘Marathi Manoos’.

However, this time around, Shiv S
ena, founded by Bal Thackeray some 40 years ago, has got a well-timed opportunity to get an edge over MNS and re-establish its credentials as the only party caring for the true home-grown Marathi.

The controversy has brought into limelight, the ageing tiger Bala Saheb, who had been helplessly watching the gradual decline of his party after the rise of Raj Thackeray, whose brand of aggressive and hate-politics has done more harm than good to the country.

The IPL row has come as a God-send for Shiv Sena, which by venting its anger against SRK, has tried to prove that its still the only party safeguarding the best interest of a Marathi.

If MNS targeted Amitabh Bachchan, then Shiv Sena has this time attacked SRK, probably a star equivalent to Big B and the most recognised face of Indian cinema the world over, at the moment.

Shiv Sena’s whole tamasha of burning effigies of SRK and posters of his film and by blocking its release is intended to strengthening its hold over Maharashtrians and further consolidating its slowly declining vote bank and nothing else.

It is somehow forgetting that going for a movie is loved equally by a Marathi as anyone else in the country, it is not a political but a cultural choice.

By attacking SRK, by questioning his patriotism and by branding him as a traitor, the Shiv Sena supremo has added fuel to the IPL controversy. Isn’t this adding to the marketing of an event... ironical?

Through his highly inflammable articles published in Samana, Bala Saheb has proved that he still rules the roost of a particular brand of politics in Maharashtra.

Bala Saheb, who is regarded as the tallest leader and a driving force for Marathis, has been out of active politics due to old age and ill health. However, the IPL episode has again brought him in the spotlight.

For those who were trying to write off Shiv Sena post its defeat in assembly elections and the emergence of MNS, the party has sought to prove that its days are still not over.

Making mockery of the actor’s highly publicised film title “My Name is Khan”, the party has taken pride in saying that it had a leader whose name is Thackeray.

According to political observers, the Shiv Sena has probably taken a great deal of risk by attacking King Khan, even at the expense of its isolation from the saffron camp.

In order to protect its national interest, the BJP has cleverly distanced itself from Shiv Sena and praised SRK as someone who has brought laurels to the country at the international level on various occasions.

In a sudden turn of events, the MNS has also softened its stand and announced not to oppose MNIK’s release on Feb 12. They have also slammed Sena for adopting a double-faced stand, banishing Shah Rukh on one hand, and ignoring similar ‘unpatriotic’ acts by Amitabh Bachchan on the other.

Clearly, ruling Congress, main opposition BJP, RJD and MNS, which is a regional party, have their own vested interests in criticising Shiv Sena, which has its presence mainly in Maharashtra. In view of this, no political party would like to face people’s ire by getting involved in an issue related to India’s most loved film star.

The funniest part of the whole drama was to see social activist Teesta Setalvad poking her nose here as well and staging a protest outside the Shiv Sena Bhawan demanding smooth release of MNIK.

At this juncture, one can simply ask a question that why cannot we play without Pakistan players when, despite tremendous international pressure, Islamabad has not punished those responsible for the Mumbai carnage. If it is so important then why SRK didnot buy or hire any Pakistani player for his IPL team earlier.

What I can definitely say is that the high-voltage political drama has done no good to the Shiv Sena, and great damage has surely been done to Maharashtra.

Shiv Sena’s tactics of linking the IPL issue with nation’s pride and its integrity in the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks, has clearly backfired. Voices from several quarters have appealed not to drag sports into politics for vested interests and sensationalising tactics.

The country is witnessing a heated debate on whether a person of SRK’s stature, who has brought numerous accolades to the country and is hailed as one of the most recognised star world over, should be dragged onto the cheap turf of politics, just for petty gains.

The people of Maharashtra, as well as those living in other parts of the country, are fed up with the repeated attempts being made by political parties to divide India on communal, regional and linguistic basis. In the process, Thackerays’ hate politics has once again flared up the language row and sharpened regionalism, which is threatening the unity and social fabric of our country.

As of now, the film’s release is surely in trouble and the issue has divided the entire nation in two camps. The recent brouhaha surrounding Bala Saheb and SRK has left everyone truly puzzled. In spite of resorting to cheap politics, Bala Saheb should have raised important issues concerning Marathis than to rabble rouse against a versatile actor such as SRK.

First Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010, 13:34

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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