The Return of Brahmanical Peshwai in Maharashtra

Amar Khade

Amar KhadeAn engineer by profession, and anti-caste activist by choice, Amar can be contacted at [email protected]

State of Maharashtra was homeland to many stalwarts of social renaissance, social revolution and most progressive movements in the Nation and Societal Building in the last two centuries. This is the land of Phule, Shahu, Ambedkar! The culmination of their movement resulted into a very progressive and modern society in the India. But there were many odds to this State too .Historically speaking, this state when ruled by the progenies of Chitpavan Brahmin Peshwas , the Untouchables ( Ati Shudras ) and Shudras faced the most atrocious oppression at the hands of State Sponsored Caste Terrorism. The history of communal riots among Muslims and Hindus also started in this era of Peshwas .Various social and political movements in last two centuries and the adoption of the Indian Constitution has so far provided a very progressive and modern outlook even though the atrocities and communal riots happened at the manipulation of the established political elite class in the State.

The Unconstitutional Act:

On 16 March 2016 something very unconstitutional act happened in the state of Maharashtra. AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan was suspended on Wednesday from the Maharashtra assembly after he refused to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Cutting across party lines, MLAs adopted a resolution unanimously to take action against him.Waris Pathan, who represents Byculla in south Mumbai, will not be allowed to attend proceedings of the house for the remainder of the Budget session.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat said, “Pathan was suspended from the assembly for showing disrespect to national heroes and refusal to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.”

The Background:

While participating in the debate on the Governor’s address to the House, Imtiaz Jaleel, AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad, said the government should not spend taxpayers’ money on building memorials. This prompted a Shiv Sena MLA to say Jaleel’s party leader Asaduddin Owaisi had said he will not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

At this, Pathan said, “We will say ‘Jai Hind’ but not ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. There cannot be any compulsion on saying ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. The Constitution does not say this.” Immediately after his remarks, MLAs from the BJP and Shiv Sena and other opposition parties including Congress and NCP demanded suspension of AIMIM MLAs from the House. Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said AIMIM MLAs should apologise but other legislators demanded their suspension. Bapat said he will table a resolution seeking approval of the House for suspension of AIMIM MLAs, after which it was adjourned for 10 minutes. It was adjourned thrice amid protests. When the proceedings resumed, Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil tabled the resolution, seeking suspension of Pathan, which was approved unanimously. “Pathan has misused freedom of speech, violated Parliamentary traditions and insulted Bharat Mata,” he said. “During his suspension period, Pathan won’t be able to attend House proceedings and won’t be allowed near the Vidhan Sabha premises,” Patil said. Speaker Haribhau Bagade informed the House that the resolution had been adopted unanimously. AIMIM has expressed its opposition to chanting of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. This was after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the new generation needs to be taught to chant slogans hailing Mother India. Owaisi had said he did not want to chant that slogan. “What are you going to do, Bhagwat sahab. I won’t utter that (slogan) even if you put a knife to my throat. Nowhere in the Constitution it says that one should say: ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he told a public rally in Latur district on March 13.

Now the real question arises after all this incident is “How does the not chanting of personified idea of Bharat Mata result in hurting any nationalist sentiments?” Does the chanting of Bharat Mata ki Jai outweigh the chants of Jai Hind? How does the not chanting of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” insults the national heroes of the past?” The ambit of Freedom of Speech and Expression also has many dimensions. Remaining silent and not speaking any words too comes under the preview of freedom of expression. Mere the political majority in the house has targeted the MLA from a Minority community on the very narrow definition of “insult” to national heroes and misuse of Freedom of Expression. This particular incident reflects many subtle problems associated the discourses of nationalism itself. The very idea of a personified god like “Bharat Mata” is the Hindu construction of the idea of India. How certain constructions of idea of Bharat Mata can represent the nationalism in broader sense? How can a geo-political territory/boundary become anyone’s mother?

Bharat is not my Mata, never will be! Hindu Nationalists’ idea of a Nation hurts my sentiments, and so does the ‘unconstitutional’ slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Does allegiance to the Bharat Mata means allegiance to different sections of Indian Society or limited only in personification of deity called as Bharat Mata? No one can prove his / her patriotic fervor by mere chanting some slogans of Bharat Mata .The real patriotism would be the serving the people of this country , making their life happy and ending the various misery and fulfilling one’s own Fundamental Duties as enshrined by the Constitution of India . Mere sloganeering of a particular chant is nothing but a chant a priest sings to the invisible so-called god just to fulfill his wish. Deification of a geographical boundary without the consideration of the different strata of Society is a clear prescription of Hegemony of certain groups over other in the camouflage of nationalism.

 

 

 

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  • Peetambar Ratnam

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