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News18 » Videos » News18 Shorts

Are Bihari migrants soft targets for politicians like Raj?

Sep 04, 2012 10:35 AM IST India India

A case has been filed against the MNS chief in the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court in Nalanda for his hate speech.

On Face the Nation, CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose asks a panel of experts - Are Bihari migrants soft targets for politicians like Raj Thackeray?

Sagarika Ghose: Hi there, yes, MNS leader Raj Thackeray has once again lashed out at Biharis, or specifically Bihari migrants to Mumbai calling them infiltrators. Is Raj Thackeray playing the worst kind of parochial politics and is he guilty of hate speech or is he echoing the majority view among Maharashtrians? Raj Thackeray's reference to Biharis living in Mumbai as infiltrators has invited charges of hate speech against the people of Bihar. A case has now been filed against Raj Thackeray in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Nalanda. Meanwhile, there are signs of a thaw between Raj and his uncle, the Shiv Sena's Bal Thackeray. A Shiv Sena editorial today supported Raj Thackeray's tirades against Bihari immigrants. The editorial also condoned the arrest of a Bihari for alleged vandalisation of the Amar Jawan memorial in Mumbai, an act that had drawn the concern of the Bihar government.

Are Bihari migrants just a soft target for Raj Thackeray or is he echoing a majority Maharashtrian viewpoint about north Indian migrants? Lets talk about Raj Thackeray vs migrants and then look at the latter part of the programme whether anti migrant politics has a future in the shrinking economic climate of our time. Joining us, Kiran Nagarkar, Author and Screenwriter, Rahul Narvekar, Head of Legal Cell, Shiv Sena, Sanjay Jha, Author, Columnist, Manoj Jha, Professor, Department of Social Work, DU. On phone Manish Tiwary, Film Director.

Rahul Narvekar, of the Shiv Sena, your party supremo Bal Thackeray has praised Raj Thackeray’s tirades against Bihari migrant. Raj Thackeray once again followed the tactic that the Shiv Sena patented over so many years, calling the Bihari migrant infiltrators. How can you use this kind of language against fellow citizens? Is there a border between Maharashtra and the rest of the India? What kind of a language is infiltrator on fellow Indian?

Rahul Narvekar: Well Sagarika I would like to beg to differ. No where in Saamana Bal Thackeray has supported Raj Thackeray. All that the Saamana editorial states today is that the action of the Bihar government in issuing a notice to a upright police officer who was performing his duty was uncalled for.

Sagarika Ghose: But that is the matter.

Rahul Narvekar: This person who has been arrested by the Mumbai police could have committed act of serious violence in Bihar itself. The Bihar government should praise the Mumbai police for arresting him.

Sagarika Ghose: No Mr Narvekar, let us not get lost in the bureaucratic details. This is the matter of the Bihar and Mumbai police. Why is Raj Thackeray politicising an issue? It is an issue that you have politicised. The Shiv Sena is guilty of violence against the migrants, the Shiv Sena has also targeted those who are not Marathi manush. The question is that is a citizen of India not welcome in the city of Mumbai?

Rahul Narvekar: Sagarika the problem is with selective journalism, when reputed and renowned journalist like you choose to select pieces of a article and condemn the party. You also focus on the piece in the article where it says the lakhs of Biharis and north Indians are living in Mumbai peacefully and earning their bread and butter. We know that we are a law abiding party, the Constitution of India provides the freedom of settlement anywhere in the country. Having said that when people from different parts of the country comes and settle in a part of a country and absolutely distort the life of the ethnic population of that region, that’s where the problem lies. Sheila Dikshit also at one point of time stated that Delhi is also a victim of illegal migrants.

Sagarika Ghose: But how migrants destroying the life of Mumbai? But let me put your point to Manoj Jha, what Mr Navekar is arguing is that the population of the Hindi speaking people in Mumbai is almost 20 per cent. What he also said is that four out of the six members of Parliament who come from Mumbai are not Maharashtrian, so therefore there is a feeling of anxiety that is what he is eluding to.

Manoj Jha Sagarika, the problem is more of fiction than fact. If you look at the data that who is elected from where you’ll see that they have merge people from outside. Let me tell you, in 1952, JV Kirplani won his election from Saharsa, a small north Indian town. George Fernandes in a row won from Muzaffarpur. No questions of ethnicity, insider or outsider were raised. What I would like to continue with Mr Rahul here is that three years ago in an editorial in Saamana Shiv Sena said “ek Bihari sow bimari, do bihari ladai ki taeyaari, panch bihari sarkar hamari”, and the rate of migrant to Maharashtra or Mumbai in particular has gone down substantially.

Sagarika Ghose: So this is creating an enemy, creating a hate figure purely for political reasons.

Manoj Jha Poor management, lack of governance and you look for an escape goat.

Sagarika Ghose: Let’s put to Kiran Nagarkar. Is the Shiv Sena or the MNS reflect the majority view. Do you feel that? What is your view?

Kiran Nagarkar I hope that this is not the case that these parties reflect the views of the Maharashtrians generally. Because if one has to talk in historical perspective, what we have is the reform movement which was very forefront when we were fighting for our freedom. And there where people at the helm there, there was Ranade, Gopa Krishna Gokhle Agarkar, Karwe and not to mention Ambedkar himself. So you know the traditions in Maharashtra are exactly opposite to just propounded by these parties. We are an absolutely open-minded people. Education is what we swear by. Women’s liberation, women’s capacity to work all this came from Maharashtra. And the most important thing is the Constitution of the country. I cannot image Maharashtra disrespecting the constitution. I am very much aghast, appalled that we are going this route when we have such fine example in front of us.

Sagarika Ghose: Those are very eloquent word from Mr Nagarkar that Maharashtra never stood for any such parochial politics. But let me put to you Sanjay Jha, what about the street popularity of Raj Thackeray, of the Shiv Sena element who became very popular when they echoed these kind of views? Do you feel as someone from Bihar who has made his living in Mumbai that this kind of feeling is gaining grounds of support?

Sanjay Jha Sagarika, I agree with what Kiran has said because I as a Bihari has lived in Maharashtra for past 30 years, I think the basic point is that the Shiv Sena and the MNS both needs to look at the statistics of the ground. You know it is so easy to target Biharis because Biharis are caricatured in films but the fact of migration today is that out the 100 per cent migrants to Mumbai 40 per cent are from Maharashtra itself. And actually the Biharis constitute only three and a half per cent of the total migration. That’s the reality of time. The beauty of Mumbai is its cosmopolitan nature and the city gains by migration. MNS is a potent force but it has a saturation point beyond which it can’t go.

Sagarika Ghose: Let me just bring in Rahul Narvekar again. Respond to what you have heard that cities are built by migration from all over the world. Mumbai is built by Sindhi, Gujaratis, Punjabis, so how can you say that so and so if comes to the city is an attack on the living of the inhabitants?

Rahul Narvekar: Well Sagarika, I echo the same sentiment. America is built by migrants from all over the world. But my point is when the government fails to provide adequate facilities to a state which attracts a lot of migrants from all the states, that’s when the local population suffers. For example, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation has the capacity of providing water to only 90 lakh people but the population of Mumbai is two crore people, who is going to bear the brunt of this? There are slums nearly on every corner of the city.

Sagarika Ghose: Why there is a victimhood that only the locals are facing the problem? Surely everybody is facing the brunt.

Rahul Narvekar: That is the problem, people who have been living here for decades together all of a sudden faces huge migrant influx because of which they have to compromise on every expect of life due to the lack of governance and facilities.

Sagarika Ghose: Ok, those are very troublesome categories Rahul Narvekar. People who have been ethnically living in a place for decades, who are the people who have been ethnically living in a place? Let me bring in Kiran Nagarkar here, is cultural fear a reality when you have large number of north Indian living and shouting loudly Chatth pooja, or having there own political organisation who are assertive about their way of lives. Does that not impinge on those living in cultural fear who thinks that there language is in danger, Marathi way of life is in danger and that they have been swamped by a very assertive way of life. The north Indians have a very assertive way of life.

Kiran Nagarkar The Maharashtrian are in danger from the Maharashtrians themselves. Let us not forget that 35 per cent of Marathi are full of Persian and Arabic, now what are you going to do? Drop Marathi? And if at all we care, we would realise that we don’t stand alone, we are free to go anywhere in the country. The problem is that our municipality is so slack that it was planned 60 years before not 60 years ahead. Water shortage is a reality, I don’t deny that. But that is not the fault of the outsider.

Sagarika Ghose: Water shortage is not the fault of the outsider. There is no such thing as outsider in India. Do you want to respond to what Rahul Narvekar, Kiran Nagarkar is saying and we are talking about are Biharis soft targets and that the cities are built by migrants. You don’t see the Shiv Sena and the MNS going after the Gujaratis, the Punjabis but Biharis who are poor, who are the unskilled work force.

Manoj Jha: You know they have never examined what is the contribution of the immigrants to the GDP of Maharashtra or Mumbai. If you examine that you’ll find that if they dream from the city they contribute to the dream further. Number two, when they talk about ethnicity it is not an issue in India we are not an ethnic stock. And the third one which scares me is that they blame the lack of governance and find an escape goat in a poor Bihari. What happens to the idea of India?

Sagarika Ghose: What happens to the idea of India? Is the India of India in collision course with the Marathi manush? Let me put to you Kiran Nagarkar, the book by Myron Weiner points out the conflict between the labour force and the others. Do you believe as we globally, as these states grow these sons of the soils movement will only grow because of the result for the competition of a job?

Kiran Nagarkar: Yes I suspect that they will grow because you politicise issue which try to exclude people and the question raising the problem is that you create employment. Then somebody else because he is also the part of the community that you live in. Maharashtra is a part of India and everybody is as welcome as we are to go to Delhi or anywhere else. But migrant population turning out to be a serious problem, maybe yes or maybe not. The problems that are going to come up in the future will be of natural resources.

Sagarika Ghose: The problem will be the politicisation. Politicising migrant is the big danger. Let me put to you Sanjay Jha that migrants assimilating into the culture assimilating into the surrounding, should also learn Marathi and assimilate into the local culture?

Sanjay Jha: You know the reality is that the migrants are willing to brave all odd to make a life. But I give you a linkage here, Delhi and Mumbai are two classic case of manifest of change, in the last decade or so the improvement in the infrastructure in Delhi and decline of the same in Mumbai. Migrants issue is politicised for sure but the declining infrastructure cannot accommodate the migrants. Delhi now has become the most migrant friendly. At the end of the day the message is absolutely clear that it has a lot to do with the governance.

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