Not with swords and daggers



The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena like to believe that the Mangeshkar sisters belong to them. In fact, not just belong to them – the Thackerays believe that they own these national assets.

Both Bal Thackeray and his nephew have been fighting over Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale ever since Raj Thackeray split the Sena to form his own party in 2006. In the late 1990s, as Raj was about to set up his own parallel employment agency – the Shiv Udyog Sena – with some help from Michael Jackson, Lata Mangeshkar helped his project along with a immensely successful fund-raiser show for Thackeray’s nephew.

But then the family, as the party, was united. After the split, Raj clearly expected her to side with him. She chose to attend a Bal Thackeray event instead, clearly demonstrating who she held in higher esteem. Raj suffered another body blow when even Asha Bhosale seemed to veer away from him with a statement against his anti-North Indian campaign, stating that Bombay belonged to all and that she did not care for the attempts to divide Indian society.

Now Raj is getting back at her by threatening the doyenne against appearing on a show on at last two Indian television channels (and one in Pakistan) which is a competition between Indian and Pakistani singers, with Abeeda Parveen of Pakistan and Runa Laila of Bangladesh as the other judges.

We have known for a long time that the show will begin to air from September. So why should Raj Thackeray have woken up so late to this fact? Not to mince any words, there are clearly two reasons: the MNS and the Shiv Sena are habitual offenders in this respect and raising objections now rather than when the show was announced several weeks ago would emphasise the urgency for a speedy settlement of the issue.

And although the Shiv Sena, too, has joined this bandwagon, Raj is further energised by the success of his rally last week against the violence by some Muslim groups at Azad Maidan in Bombay on August 11. I could see clearly from his stand that he had received some covert support from the Congress authorities to go ahead with a rally that was not allowed by the police. He abused and targeted everybody among the police and politicians, sparing only the Congress which should actually have borne maximum blame for letting things go out of hand in a state led by their party in government.

However, the prospect of a benevolent hand of the ruling party on its head now seems to have emboldened Raj enough to threaten violence against the Indian studios airing the show and the artistes participating in it. I wonder how much leeway he will now be given by the government – will he really be allowed to go as haywire as he did during his anti-North India campaign or will he be squeezed again as the Congress-led government did when they began to get diminishing returns from turning a blind eye to his shenanigans?

As chief minister, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh was convinced that he had been asked to go after the 26/11 attacks by Pakistani elements on the city, not for the attacks per se but because north Indian leaders like Lalu Pasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav who were supporting the UPA government at the Centre, had been nursing grudges against him for not reigning in Raj and his men during that anti-North Indian campaign.
Then, at the 2009 elections, the Congress discovered that the MNS was actually easting into their own votes and the incoming dispensation tightened the screws on the MNS by squeezing Raj Thackeray’s ample business interests in the state.

That sent most of the MNS into a shell from which they did not recover until late week’s covert Congress support to their leader revitalised them and revived their interest in rampages. I do not understand why the Congress cannot see how dangerous it is to harbour elements like the MNS who always tend to turn into Frankenstein’s monsters sooner rather than later.

Pakistan has some good singers but I hope to see Indian singers beating them on the show and there could be no better means to defeat Pakistan than by bringing home to them the fact that they have only a small slice of what we have in ample measure. Of course, there are many Pakistani singers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan who have richly contributed to Indian music, too – tunes that are surely hummed even by Shiv Sena and MNS workers during the lighter moments in their troubled existences.

Fortunately, just in anticipation of such a problem, the organisers had shifted the initial shooting to Dubai; I do not really know how it might pan out now, in terms of shooting or airing the competition. But I do hope, the Maharashtra government is not stupid enough again to allow Raj a free rein as they had done in the past. After all, Ajmal Kasab, one among the ten perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks, is now finally on death row. We have proved we are a civilised nation, giving everyone a fair chance but we spare no killers or mass murderers.

The Shiv Sena had been screaming for Kasab’s head from day one, asking that he be lynched and hanged from the nearest tree. Sadly, had we given in to those base sentiments, we would have been no better than Pakistan and if we do not allow a civilised settlement of who is the better of the two nations, every which way, we will indeed prove that we are no better than Pakistan.

I am no dove in matters relating to Pakistan but I also do not want to be represented by the likes of Raj Thackeray who heads a party of very few thinking individuals and mostly comprising goons and gangsters. It might help his political agenda to position himself against every `other’ person, Indian or otherwise, Muslim or even otherwise. But to me that is a divisive agenda and I certainly do not wish to be his kind of Indian, working against the spirit of the country and its Constitution.

So while I have no interest in long-drawn television reality shows, I think I will watch this one. And I will be rooting all the way for Himesh Reshamiya, keeping my fingers crossed that his team soundly boots out the Pakistan team – through a show of talent and not of swords and daggers.

And I also hope that Asha Bhoasale will once again tell Raj Thackeray off as soundly as she had done the last time around, with that single act destroying the agenda of someone who would have us believe that all Maharashtrians agreed with him. Clearly Raj Thackeray speaks only for himself and not even for all his fellow Maharshtrians. And most certainly not for the rest of us – all Indians.

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  • Abu Ahmed

    Is it in the nature of urban based political parties to fall back upon attacking artists, film stars and other film-based personalities or is it an admission of the fact that they do really lack mass-rural based support – as they do not offer any ideological view-point other than blatant regional and parochial bombast?

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  • vasant

    I don’t want Ms.Sujata to represent me when she says ” And most certainly not for the rest of us – All Indians” as i don’t share her views when it comes to Pakistani singers and artist. These very so called Pakistani ART Fraternity does not go out of their way to promote Indian Art there just because they know they will lose all their market right there in Pakistan. People like Sujata/Mahesh Bhatt etc think they represent India! As for Mageshkar sisiters it is just selfish interest nothing more. They opposed the Flyover on Peddar Road when it could help scores of hapless motorist. But being selfish they don’t care which is why equally good singers could not thrive during their rein like Suman Kalyanpur etc. So Ms.SUJATA ANANDAN don’t speak for all Indians or MAHARASTRIANS for GOD SAKE. No body has given you the right.

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  • Anonymous

    It is not just about Pakistani artists! How can a group dictate to others what others should think? They can always make their point and leave it to the others to either accept or reject the opinion. But these people are threatening with “unless? It is a wonder how the Sate Government and the Central Government can sit idle against such comments. One supposes that if it is politically expedient, anything goes. Even if it divides the society.

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  • Anonymous

    Well you have been consistently making heroes of the COngress leadership all the time, desptie them backing Raj Thakrey

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  • Mo

    Yes Tiwari can help by producing illegitimate children. He cannot be an asset to any respectable candidate. Incidentally, has he promised to part with his property to his only known son who won a paternity suit against him?

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  • Mohit

    I am one of the silent ones, and this post made me sad… but I hope you find the joy of discovery in your new journey… :)
    It was fun reading your blog, thank you for writing it all these years.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Thank you for reading it, Mohit.

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  • garima

    Perfect way to sign out without telling us what the something new is. Anyways will
    miss you. Best Wishes for the new start.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Hahahaha! I wasn’t sure whether I should name my new job in a blog hosted by my old job, Garima, so I just let it be. But though I won’t get into specifics, I’ll be doing advertising.

    Thank you for your wishes. :)

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  • Sunipa

    Wish you all the very best for whatever you put your hand to now….Am sure whatever it is, it will definitely be a much more fun thing, now that you will be linked to it. I am one of your silent readers and without your post, my weekend would not start well. But then I was kind of sensing a shift in universe all over since the past month and guess, this is also a sign ……

    Here’s to new beginnings………

    An ardent admirer of your words

    Sunipa

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    Kushal Reply:

    There HAS been a sense of change lately, hasn’t there, Sunipa? It’s a good feeling, thanks for confirming it.

    And thanks for your kind words. :)

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  • Kushal

    Oh good heavens! Your pseudonym makes me feel like a film star, krg’s fan! Thank you for being here all this while.

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  • Amit

    “Abhi na Jao chod ke……..ki dil abhi bhara nahi”

    But if you must go……..we wish you all the best

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    Kushal Reply:

    Thank you, Amit. (And as an aside, did I really have to QUIT to get you to say something?????? Hmmm.)

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  • N Ramesh

    So sad to know this Kushal:

    It was a sheer joy reading your blogs – very simple and to the point written and one could connect with your thoughts easily.

    All good things invariably come to an end.

    Best wishes from an admirer and regular reader of your blog. And it takes lot of courage to start from scratch after 20+ years.

    I am sure all readers of this blog will agree with me on this – you are a rare breed of writers – totally unbiased and without any specific agenda – unlike – so many paid media journos.

    Best Regards

    N Ramesh

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  • N Ramesh

    Thanks Kushal:

    While there may be few paid journalists – there are plenty of biased journalists who try to force their views on readers instead of presenting facts. Also, I find that tribe of recent generation of journalists passing out of institutes can not write without any spelling and grammar mistakes.

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    Kushal Reply:

    With your latter point, I agree most heartily. But I wonder what you mean by biased journalists. If you agree with what some journalists say, do you believe they are unbiased?

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    N Ramesh Reply:

    Well. I was naive and foolish with agree with some of the celebrity writers and like many midddle class Indians – Radia Tapes destroyed the faith and respect I had on the journalists.

    I grew up reading articles of Kuldip Nayyar, H.K.Dua which had clarity, views and were pleasure to read and remember.

    I still remember the spoof Indian Express carried during 1989 elections on Congress Poll Ads. Every day IE carried a nice and hard hitting spoof on the previous day’s ad by Congress.

    It is rare to find such articles in Main stream media.

    The pleasure of reading a newspaper – from first page to last page is totally gone.

    By the way, your act of cleaning up motivated me and I now have an uncluttered working table and I have thrown away lot of stuff I was keeping including my cell phone bought in 1996.

    Best Regards

    Ramesh N

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    Kushal Reply:

    You make a good point, Ramesh. A very good one. Thanks for the reminder of the good times past.

    And glad I inspired your clean up, honestly, it is SO liberating to just chuck out everything that clutters one’s life. In every sense. :)

    N Ramesh Reply:

    It is liberation of course to clean up. I wish I can so easily chuck out cluttered past and flush them out of mind.

    Please don’t stop writing. You may have decided to shift out of journalism. But you can be a writer and should launch your own blog. You have a short but committed readers and we will all love to interact with you in your blog.

    Best of luck once again

    Ramesh N

    Kushal Reply:

    Even the past is not so hard to clean up, provided you have it clear in your head that it’s nothing more than clutter, just like your 1996 cell phone. I know, I’ve done it. :)

    N Ramesh Reply:

    Very true. One has to just decide the shed the excess baggage. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kanikadhupar Kanika Dhupar

    I started reading this column when it came on the editorial page in the Chandigarh edition and have loved every piece of your writing, be it the blogs or the longish pieces in Brunch (my favourite ones: We are like this only, Independence Day cover story).

    Not only you are the finest but the funniest writer who gives a message with the right mix of clarity and simplicity. I am glad to see you happy but this column shall be missed.

    Cheers Bunny, here’s to new beginnings.

    Lots of love and hug,
    Kanika

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    Kushal Reply:

    Thanks, Kanika. We’ll be in touch.

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  • Parvana

    Hey K, new adventures…must hear all about them! Good luck and God speed. :)

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    Kushal Reply:

    I may startle you with a phone call, Parvana. Grin.

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    Parvana Reply:

    Look forward to it…away from 7th May to 12th June but anytime before or after is good. :)

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  • sunila gupte

    I came across your blog by chance,in Sept 2009, and since then it has been a must read for me! Some nostalgic, some raves (the early ones) some straight from the heart, but always, always calling one to read them and holding one’s interest.
    It requires courage to change and give up the known and familiar, but then, there is also a time to move on. Wishing you the very best in your new venture…may it be exciting, exhausting, alive and what you wanted and needed.Good luck, Kushal, and thank you for the lovely blogs which i will miss.

    Why can’t you continue your own blog? You have enough people to follow it. Its been great knowing you, really…

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    Kushal Reply:

    Thanks, Sunila.

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  • sunila gupte

    BTW, only started reading Brunch because of you, and enjoyed it

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  • Tsinha

    Kushal,
    All the best for new beginnings! How exciting! Be in touch, I think you have my contact details?

    [Reply]

    Kushal Reply:

    Thanks Tsinha! Yes, we’ll be in touch. :)

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  • N Ramesh

    Hi Kushal:

    Hoping to read some new articles from you before you become part of ‘Past Bloggers’.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/waqar.haider.5059 Waqar Haider

    All the very best for the future.A bold decision.

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    [Reply]