Vantage point

Monday, November 14, 2005

Majboori Ka Naam Mahatma Gandhi

The title of this post is very difficult to translate. However the loose import of this Hindi neo-proverb is that most seemingly noble actions are taken because there is no other option available.

We see an ironic demonstration of this saying in Malwan, where the Shivsena in an unexpected twist, is turning to Gandhian ways. This is all the more ironic, considering the Sena's history, which is filled with ridicule and contempt for Gandhiji and his principles. Indeed the entire Saffron movement, of which the Shivsena is a semi-offshoot, was based on rubbishing Gandhiji's principles as unrealistic and counter-productive.

So I rubbed my eyes in disbelief when I read about the Shivsena launching a Shantirath(peace-chariot) while campaigning in Malwan, where the upcoming by-elections see Narayan Rane, the former-Sainik-turned-Congressman, trying to retain his seat. Not just that, the Shivsena claims to be the "real followers of Gandhi".

A more fitting illustration of "Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi" is impossible to find.

The reason the Shivsena is swearing by Gandhian ideals (don't laugh too hard if you are reading this in office) is that Rane used to be their muscle in those parts. The Shivsena brand of politics has always relied on grandiose demonstrations of bravado and sabre-rattling. Such demonstrations can't be carried out by normal "party workers". They need the participation of folks who use bravado and intimidation in Folks with police records, tough bodies, and expertise in brandishing weapons. For Sena, in the Konkan(and most of Mumbai) region, Narayan Rane was the supplier of this commodity.

Now if Rane himself is the enemy, where will they get someone to fight him?

All this is very reminiscent of a 1990s Sunny Deol starrer 'Narsimha'. In the movie, Om Puri plays 'Baapji', an influential politician (coincidentally, he too wears shades). Deol plays Narsimha, his most reliable muscleman, his "problem solver" so to say. Due to a combination of various factors like a re-awakened conscience and the beauty of Dimple Kapadia, Narsimha turns against Baapji. Bappji sends some goons to punish the errant soldier, but Narsimha, in true Deol-esque style, swats them like baby flies, and says to Baapji - "Earlier when you had a problem you couldn't solve, you came to Narsimha. Now if Narsimha himself is the problem, whom will you go to?"

The situation the Sena finds itself is identical. When your biggest problem-solver becomes your biggest problem, who will solve it? No one. So what do you do?

Shantirath! :-)