Catch-22, na ghar ka, na ghat ka!



My friend Avinash Pande, a secretary with the All India Congress Committee, was a worried man, Wednesday night. He had just read my column (Anandan on Wednesday: Merit alone is not enough) and he was concerned that I had said that Raj Thackeray might make a song and dance of it if the Congress nominates a North Indian to the Rajya Sabha.

“Am I not a North Indian?” he asked.

I was lolling around in front of my television set and I sat up in shock. I had never thought of Pande as being anything but a Maharashtrian – we have both grown up in Nagpur and absorbed Maharashtra’s culture so well that we would both be misfits anywhere else. So the thought never even occurred to me that he could not be a legitimate claimant to a Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra.

“Well, if you are just North Indian and not Maharashtrian, are you applying for a seat from Haryana or Rajasthan or even Uttar Pradesh?” I asked him.

“Yes, I know what you mean. I do not have claims to any of those states. But still there are people in this world who will misinterpret if that suits their agenda.”

That statement of his set me thinking even more deeply about this whole sons of the soil thingy (I refuse to call it a policy) raising its ugly head again all across India. The Prime Minister of the country is a Sikh but represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha and neither India nor Assam has been the worse for it, after all.

There are so many others who do not represent their home states in the Rajya Sabha – Jairam Ramesh (from Karnataka, representing Andhra Pradesh), Najma Heptullah (from Maharashtra, representing Rajasthan), Rajiv Shukla (from Uttar Pradesh, representing Maharshtra) et al and I do not think that any of them did any discredit to their adopted states.

Yet, I hear this bitter argument all the time about “outsiders” seeking representations from states not their own which these critics believe does injustice to politicians from those states who might also want a representation in the Rajya Sabha.

I can see the sense of that argument, too, but then where does that leave people like Pande and one of my revered gurus, Vijay Darda? Darda (who is seeking a third term from Maharashtra) is of Marwari origin but has known only Maharashtra as his home. As has Pande. Et moi aussi.

But while I can get along in life by belonging to a state adopted as their own by parents who hail from two different regions of India, where do our politicians from similar backgrounds go?

Pande was the president of the Maharashtra unit of the National Students’ Union of India, president of the Maharashtra Youth Congress and a general secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee for years before he moved to Delhi. Darda’s newspaper chain Lokmat is the largest selling Marathi publication whose circulation overtakes that of most other newspapers run by sons of the soil – clearly proving that he understands Maharashtrian readers and thier psyche better than those with full claims to being Maharashtrian.

I am sure there are ample examples like these all over the country – wasn’t MG Ramchandran, one of the most successful chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, originally from Kerala? And isn’t his successor J Jayalalitha from Karnataka? Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad represented Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha for several terms before becoming Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir years later. There are many native Marathi speakers in the Karnataka Assembly, many Bengali speakers in Assam, Bihar and Orissa, many Punjabi speakers in Jammu and Kashmir — the list can go on endlessly.

And that is as it should be – India is one country and there should be no barriers to movement or stumbling blocks put in the way of people who might want to settle in one place or the other. And that goes for politicians seeking representation to the Rajya Sabha, too. That is why, while I fully understand the ire of Congressmen in Maharashtra at the thought of having a non-Maharashtrian (read Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma) sent to the Rajya Sabha from the state (the Congress doesn’t have enough representation in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly for him to make the Rajya Sabha from his home state), I cannot endorse their argument against it.

For the first time, then, I understand the meaning of being in a Catch-22 situation. In terms of this year’s Rajya Sabha elections, if one endorses the `sons of the soil’ argument, a Anand Sharma might not get a nomination from Maharashtra but that would then lead to extending that argument to disqualify friends like Pande and Darda (though they have been living in Maharashtra for at least a generation or two) from representing the state in national politics.

And if one goes for the `free for all policy’, well, then, I deeply sympathise with locals who get marginalised all the time in the race to accommodate bigwigs who do not have enough support in their own states.

And along with so many of my friends, siblings and cousins who were born someplace after their parents migrated from elsewhere in India, I stand the risk of becoming na gha ka na ghat ka!

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  • A.M.FAZIL

    Madame,this article of yours is one of the best examples of how a perfect article should be.

    Some of our political leaders some times issue some strange, ridiculous and insane orders in regions where they have influence.Though majority of people discard these utopian ideals,they wouldn’t protest for fear that these leaders might,at any time,unleash mass destruction on them.

    If every state in India begins to think in the way the great thackereys think,this country of ours will be constrained to be nothing more than a vast region with cannibals in abundance!

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    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thank you

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  • http://o3.indiatimes.com/JYOTI RAMAN LAL RANIGA

    yeh kahawat haih i think i read in my primary shool days the heading was “DOBBI KA KUTTA” FINALLY THE STORY ENDS “na ghar ka, na ghat ka!”
    WE SEE DOBBI WORKS HARD TO CLEAN OUR CLOTHES AND MAKES A LIVING
    BUT A DOG JUST COMES ALONG AND LOOKS AFTER
    BUT SOMETIMES THE DOG WANDERS AWAY IN OTHER TERRITORY AND OTHER DOGS WILL ATTACK
    THE INSTINCT THEY PUT THEIR MARKER BOUNDARY YOU KNOW SOME THE ANIMALS
    HOW THEY MARK THEIR TERRITORY WITH THEIR URINE THE DOGS LIONS TIGERS
    THIS IS MY TERRITORY DO NOT ENTER
    YES EXACTLY MANY HUMANS BEHAVE LIKE THIS IN THE WORLD
    WELL MY ARTICLE ABOVE TRIES TO SHOW HUMAN HAS TO BE HUMANE AS ALL OUR KARAMS DO BRING FRUITS SOME SOONER SOME LATER. YES LIVE LIFE KNOWING BHAGWAAN AS JYOTI OF OUR LIFE AND OUR PROVIDER IF WE RESPECT BHAGWAANS CREATIONS FULLY WELL AND THANK BHAGWAN JYOTI DAILY WITHIN ALL THEN HAPPINESS AND JOY GUARANTEED
    LIFE IS A JOURNEY TO EVOLVE OUR SOUL TO BE A PREMMEE LIKE OUR ONE MAKER WHO IN PREM IS THE JYOTI OF LIFE IN ALL LIVING MOVING CREATURES SO I SAY BHAGWAAN IS OMIPRESENT IN ALL AS JYOTI OF LIFE AND BHAGWAAN IS SILENT WITNESS TO OUR KARAMS AS WELL

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  • Drishta

    Pritish Nandy represented undivided Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Sanjay Nirupam is another such example. MNS doesn’t have the strength to elect . We would then have seen a different pitch from them. They are not even son of the soils for Sena. Darda, Bajaj have contributed something to the development of Maharashtra. That apart, I firmly believe that Rajya Sabha seats are sold to the highest bidder. Otherwise people like Mallaya don’t have any place in the upper house. For better or worse the upper house has become a place for wheeling and dealing. It has become a rare thing to get a really deserving son of the soil to get elected in RS.
    Worst corollary is to get a job or house for an ‘outsider’ in their ‘home’ state.

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  • http://www.hindustantimes.com pankaj Vohra

    Congratulations Sujata. You were bang on target. The Congress a little while ago nominated both Avinash Pande and Vijay Darda for its two Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra. Keep it up. Brgds. Pankaj

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    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thanks, Pankaj.

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  • http://digitalblogindia.in Kunal

    The author is unnecessarily trying to predict and write articles before the actual event even occurs. why can’t you wait till the outcome and then write about what really happened.

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  • http://twitter.com/JyotiBatu Jyoti Batu

    Guarding healthy environment is the ultimate responsibility of the people in a society.Environment can’t give money to politicos but corporates can,similarly good environment gives us life which neither politicos nor corporates can.General public need to be aware of the consequence of pollution and to challenge the economic centric govt.for their double standard- specially ignoring soundness of environment and public welfare,since they are voted to perform only.Mute spectators are curse to a civilized society.

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  • Anthonymuthu Xavier

    A few people enjoy, waste and pollute the environment to he detriment of all future generation. Natural resource is wasted in manufacture of goods not basically essential for human survival. Abuse of natural resources with the labor of the majority for the sensual satisfaction of the few leads the world to ultimate destruction, may be irreversible. Despite continuous warnings from science community and environmentalists against a bleak human future, greediness of man blinds the foresight.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/swaminathangeethamohan Swaminathangeethamohan Krishna

    WE NEVER REALISE UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE- BLIND TO FACTS AS EVER.

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  • http://twitter.com/sheulibose Sheuli’s_Free_Tarot

    The greedy industrialists are not easily satiated. Their greed is immense. The people, like Muslims, Jats and Gujjars are producing children like there is no tomorrow. Massive scale destruction/death is inevitable. Many innocent like us may die, but so will many sex-hungry and devious communities will be eliminated. Thank for that..Don’t give any money to orphan and poor children..let them die. have no mercy..

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    a Reply:

    you are a hateful psycho. please go and die.

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  • Disgusted Desi

    Everyone knows that autorickshaws and tempos are some of the most polluting vehicles in India (both emissions as well as sound pollution). The govt sees no evil, hears no evil, smells no evil … all because they are paid heftily by the likes of Bajaj and other automakers and industrialists to not pass any anti-pollution legislation. In other cases, many small scale industries (like the tanning industry in Agra) are massive polluters but they represent a good vote bank. Sugar mills are another example … where the pawar family has most of the controlling interests.

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