Ajith Vijay Kumar
The shocking act by Shiv Sena MPs of forcefully stuffing a roti into the mouth of a fasting Muslim youth has once again brought into focus the high-handedness exhibited by some sections of the elected class.
While the act by Sena MPs is despicable given its potential to hurt religious sentiments, it is also true that political parties appear keen to cash in on the incident by portraying it as an insult to the Muslims.
However, the video evidence suggests that the act of force feeding by Sena MPs was a spontaneous one while they protested angrily against the poor quality of food served by IRCTC, the catering vendor for Maharashtra Sadan.
The underlying reasons run much deeper. It starts with the `Lal Batti` culture and the sense of invincibility that political power imparts to the elected representatives, making the average neta act as a rude brute who is above law and reason.
Using force against a poor government employee – irrespective of religion – is symptomatic of a rotten sense of power that some of our elected representatives carry in their heads.
The common man is helpless when confronted with such aggression by the high and mighty. One case may have come to light but then the average Indian would have many more such stories to share.
The Sena MPs are now defending their act by saying that whatever happened was part of an agitation against the poor quality of food.
At a time when cockroaches are making their way into dinner plates in trains, should passengers also start to force the catering staff to eat it?
If the common man is expected to adhere to rules and protest by filing a complaint against the caterer, what special right did the MPs have to make them feel that they can get away with rowdiness?
And, it is not just about the Sena MPs, the “I-am-powerful” kinds can be found in every political party.
The Shiv Sena has been known to bully its way to enforce its opinion on emotive issues. And, its offshoot, the MNS, has fine-tuned the trade to greater perfection as it attempts to claim greater glory in tumultuous politics of Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai.
First, they wanted south Indians kicked out, then the north Indian `bhaiyya`; they also have no qualms in smashing poll booths on highways – all for the well being of the Marathi manoos.
Reacting to force feeding incident, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said, “We are Hindutva-vadi but we do not hate others. There was no intention to hurt religious sentiments. Shiv Sena`s version is now being suppressed.”
It has been turned into the story of roti and Ramzan. Dignity of a man - who was just doing his job - can wait till the political class keeps itself busy with baking their political rotis.
Assembly Elections in Maharashtra are just months away.