Stop Attacks Against Indians in India

Our politicians and political parties do not have any right to speak about the attacks against Indians abroad. They are the ones who encourage attack against the fellow Indians in their states. Maharashtra politicians attack Biharis who come to Mumbai for writing all India exams and chasing jobs. As long as these kinds of attacks happen in India we don’t have much moral right to stop those happening against Indians abroad.

The Times of India writes (1 October 2009)

The saffron combine has dusted up an old agenda ahead of the Maharashtra polls. It wants to end migration to Mumbai and other urban centres in the
state. This follows the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) threat to put in place a permit system to regulate migration to India’s financial capital. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a member of the ruling coalition, joined this populist bandwagon when it pushed reservation of 80 per cent jobs for locals. Now the BJP-Shiv Sena have upped the ante by including a similar demand in their manifesto. Thanks to the obsession with carving out vote banks, Raj Thackeray’s extremist demands have now become mainstream.

The problem, however, is that it is flagrantly unconstitutional. Our Constitution guarantees the right of all Indian citizens to travel, work and reside anywhere in the country. Political parties that want to contest elections are legally bound to respect the Constitution. Exceptions can’t be made for the BJP, Sena, MNS or NCP. The concern of these parties for the welfare of Maharashtrians is no doubt justified, but the prescription to improve their lot is misplaced. The suggested ‘permit system’ would tear apart the social and economic fabric of Mumbai and Maharashtra. Mega cities and economies across time and place have been built with the sweat of migrants. Mumbai is no exception. Its history and identity can’t be altered by fiat from political parties.

The Congress-NCP government, having been in office for two successive terms, ought to take a large part of the blame for the state’s worries. But the saffron combine, instead of raising issues of governance and there are so many of them wants to campaign with banal slogans. The alliance hopes to check the influence of MNS, an offshoot of the Sena, with a matching rhetoric. It may suit Sena’s immediate interests to force a political discourse that pits Maharashtrian against non-Maharashtrian. But the BJP, which has a pan-Indian presence and wants to expand that, will pay a price for backing the Sena’s narrow political vision.

The Congress and the NCP may have criticised the saffron combine’s position on migration, but they too are guilty of facilitating a political climate that encourages chauvinist identity politics. The Congress-NCP government has all along winked at MNS’s hate campaigns since its growth is expected to weaken the Sena. Such agendas, even if raised only as election rhetoric, can build momentum for disastrous policy changes. If Maharashtra enforces a permit system there will be retaliatory sanctions from other states, which poses problems for the country at large. Political parties must not allow temporary (and doubtful) electoral gains to override the interests of the country and its people. bihari


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