First the uncle, then the nephew. India’s most cosmopolitan city, Bombay, is being destroyed bit by bit by cartoonists in the name of “reconstruction” of the Marathi ethos. If old man Balasaheb Thackeray turned anti-South Indian sentiment in the 1970s into a cottage industry, and then stirred the communal potion as and when required, Raj Thackeray has looked north at the turn of the century.
In targetting poor migrant workers and taxi drivers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in demanding that all signboards be written in Marathi, in threatening those who refer to “Mumbai” as Bombay, Thackeray is going down an old, familiar route in the name of the Maharashra Navanirman Samithi.
Now, the tiger cub has gone for the jugular, “banning” the movies and posters of the Bachchans—Amitabh, Abhishek, Jaya and Aishwarya. And a boycott of all products endorsed by them.
The provocation? Jaya Bachchan’s comment at a music launch: “Hum UP [Uttar Pradesh] ke log hai, isliye Hindi mein baat karenge. Maharashtra ke log maaf kariye (We are from Uttar Pradesh and will speak in Hindi—Maharashtrians will forgive us),” which Thackeray and his thugs construe as an “insult” to Marathis.
What is the one question you are dying to ask a cartoonist with a morbid sense of humour?
Photograph: rediff.com (digitally altered)