If Ambani, Tendulkar, Shah Rukh aren’t safe…?

The overcooked chickens of divisive politics are coming home to roost on the streets of Bombay for the cooks, chefs and cleaners who were dishing it out for decades.

As Bal Thackeray‘s Shiv Sena mounts a “Mumbai for Maharashtrians” campaign, as Raj Thackeray says jobs should only be given to those who were born in that State”, urbs prima in Indus is being kickedwhere it hurts by those acting in the name of its sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.

With the Bihar elections around the corner, the “cultural organisation” RSS suddenly wakes up and says its cadres have been instructed to “protect” Hindi-speaking north Indians in Bombay. The RSS’ new sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat twirls his moustache to say “language, caste, sub-castes, groups, tribes can be different but all are sons of India”, hoping that nobody notices that he deftly, deviously left “religion” out of his list.

Suddenly, the new BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, whose party has been in bed with the Shiv Sena for nearly two decades, says he will speak to the RSS and make a statement. And then, because the Bihar elections (where the party is in bed with the JD(U)) are around the corner, finds the strength to say “the strength of India’s unity in diversity is achieved only when all identities converge into a larger national identity of Indianness”.

Meanwhile, the Congress whose chief minister Ashok Chavan statement on the domicile status of taxi drivers kicked off the latest round of pathetic parochialism, finds some voice. Home minister P. Chidambaram calls “Mumbai for Maharashtrians” a pernicious theory. Rahul Gandhi declares India is for Indians.

But ponder this:  if the three biggest icons of Indian industry, sport and cinema—Mukesh Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan—aren’t safe from the provincial parasites pillaging into the carcass of a once-great cosmopolis, can a poor pani puri seller from Patna (or Chennapatna) be?

Cartoons: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today and E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Free to work anywhere?

Is the Indian Republic, at 60, crumbling?