Eye on Maharashtra: Will Mr. Fadnavis grow up, please?

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable: George Orwell

Eye on Maharashtra: Will Mr. Fadnavis grow up, please?

Sujata Anandan

Devendra Fadnavis is a graduate from the Government Law College in Nagpur; or so he claims. That nstitution has produced several legal eagles like Harish Salve, Shashank Manohar, his equally illustrious father V R Manohar, former advocate general of Maharashtra Arvind Bobde, his son Sharad Bobde who was chief justice of India and SreehariAney, another advocate general of Maharashtra, among others.

But though I have had personal interactions with most of them,and differences with a few, I could never fault them for their language. Vidarbhaites are known for being mercurial and sometimes the gloves do come off. But never has a public figure from Nagpur been heard to use the kind of uncouth language that Fadnavis did recently.

Combined with the intemperate language being used by Maharashtra governor Bhagatsingh Koshiyari for Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray – whose father Bal Thackeray was the original user of robust language but was never as bad as Fadnavis’s – as well as the tweets against Sharad Pawar that appeared last week from BJP handlers, the language used by Fadnavissullied the political waters in Maharashtra.

The gutter language that civilised people would never use and which seems to be BJP’s gift to Indian politics, may have been inspired by Narendra Modi, who had called Sonia Gandhi a Jersey cow and Sunanda Tharoor as Shashi Tharoor’s 50 Crore girlfriend. But while Modi has restrained himself in recent years, Fadnavis got carried away recently and screamed that even dogs would not want to pee on the grave of Moghul emperor Aurangzeb.

With several local self-government bodies going to polls shortly in Maharashtra, the attempt to communalise the visit of one of Owaisi brothers to the grave of Aurangzeb near Aurangabad did not come as a complete surprise. BJP had already done its best to vitiate the atmosphere in Aurangabad by unleashing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray earlier this month. But there was nary a ripple among the people there. So perhaps Fadnavis thought he would himself get into the act.

No doubt Fadnavis’s ire was directed more against Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for not taking action against Owaisi. But what did Owaisi do? He merely paid homage to Aurangzeb – many Indians might not like Aurangzeb but thenthey do not like paedophile Asaram Bapu either with whom PM Modi was once close?

Comments calling for the assassination of Sharad Pawar and raising another Nathuram Godse for the purpose could not have come from a little known Marathi actress without the backing of either Fadnavis or the BJP.

Fadnavis has finally worked out that it is not Uddhav Thackeray but Sharad Pawar who is the stumbling block to his return to office. So, when Pawar at a meeting read out a poem by Marathi poet Jawahar Rathod which spoke of stone cutters who had chiselled images of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh for a temple but were not allowed entry into the temple because they were of lower caste, BJP went hammer and tongs at him declaring him to be anti-Brahmin.

Indeed, so was Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son Sambhaji who had reprimanded priests in his kingdom for doing the same. However, Pawar’s response was to recite the poem again at another meeting in Pune which brought about retaliatory verses from BJP supporters making fun of Pawar’s illness and stating that he was destined for hell.

I remember the time when one of Pawar’s political rivals was injured in a road accident – Pawar, an ordinary MLA then, pulled out all the stops to fly an air ambulance and compelled Mumbai’s best doctors to bring him back to health. Both continued to fight with each other but no one cursed the other or wished for the other’s demise.

Fadnavis and today’s BJP are far more malevolent and depraved. Maharashtra is poorer for that.

(The writer is Consulting Editor, National Herald, Mumbai)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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