So, they kept the old man hanging on to dear life for days, didn't they now? Could it have been so cause the Mumbai Police and the administration were just not ready to bid the old chap goodbye? It certainly seemed the case going by the sheer lack of crowd control on display till about couple of days back. One was almost afraid for the life of the aam-aadmi-mumbaikar, especially the one belonging to a religious or an ethnic minority. Any one remembers that 'when a big tree falls...' comment attributed to a former prime-minister?
Once upon a time there was a Mahatma Gandhi and then there was a Bal Thackeray - this is what the eulogies on certain national news channels will have us believe. Nary a mention in the passing even of his hate-driven ideology and the calling to arms of his fanatical cadres to butcher and maim minorities of all shades and colours at the faintest of excuses - the fascist thinking is now being nicely dressed up as 'nationalist', 'hardliner', 'right-wing' etc., on the idiot-box. It escapes one's somewhat limited understanding how any right thinking person, leave alone journalists who ought to know better, can paint a parochial thug (charitable me!) as a nationalist. Pundits will perhaps discuss his legacy for years, but did we, the aam-aadmi, miss noticing his nudge-and-wink act when it came to the corrupt practices of the rank and file of his party and the allies? One wonders how many of us remember his bosom-buddy days with a certain 'treasurer' and 'poster boy' of the allied Bhartiya Janata Party - a real 'entrepreneurial' spirit if there ever was one? Ah, the fond memories of a certain chief minister he hoisted on the people of Maharashtra when the Shiv Sena briefly came to power in cahoots with the Bhartiya Janata Party - this worthy 'social-entrepreneur' (aren't they all?) was made to resign mid-term following a public outcry. Well, guess one need only 'walk on to the other side', as 'The Doors' crooned, in India, to be absolved of all acts of omission and commission, and be canonised - not for us the years long careful scrutiny of the Vatican (we are a race of doers - right here, right now is our war cry).
Ms. Sushma Swaraj is supposed to have mentioned him as a lion in a tweet today (there was a ticker to this effect on a news channel). If true, then someone in her party needs to brief her that the departed soul always modelled himself after a tiger and not a lion - any kindergarten picture-book should suffice to prove the point should the likely prime-ministerial material choose to argue the point. If the ticker was incorrect, then it speaks volumes of the material our temples of higher learning are churning out by the bucketful. Oh well, we should be an extremely worried lot either way.
Baba Ramdev ji, sir, what were you doing visiting the good soul? Sir, were you peddling a last-minute, life-saving miracle cure to one who never balked at thundering 'off with their heads'? It wasn't too long ago that the gentle soul was slamming your good friend, Anna Hazare, and the anti-corruption, pro-lokpal movement. One could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that either Anna Hazare surrounds himself - the simple, honest, honourable good man that he is - with well-intentioned friends the likes of which Julius Caesar was blessed with, or perhaps those wisps of rumours about Anna Hazare and your divine goodself being in bed with certain interests - clandestinely, one might be pardoned for imagining, what with stones being cast half-heartedly in the direction of those of a certain hue - were true after all.
Truly, an era has ended as Shahnawaj Hussain of the Bhartiya Janata Party is reported to have remarked today. One would like to hope that Mumbai will now usher in an era of peace and genuine tolerance - a mighty difficult task. One simply had to count and be amazed at the number of industry (sombre) and bollywood (tearful) czars and czarinas queuing up like the faithful to pay their last respects to the man. So much love for the man in an age where zilch comes for free? What brought upon this display of zealotry in a time when even former union cabinet ministers merit merely a mention in one of the inside pages of a national newspaper when they kick the bucket? Does one dare to put it all down to favours bestowed by the great man? Or was it a need to be seen sharing in the grief of well-groomed goon generations two and three - life and business are such uncertain matters even when planned and handled well. Did the thought that should they be unlucky enough to have a run-in with the successors, it is very unlikely any arm of the establishment or the system will come to their aid given the glowing tributes - rather side-splitting a few - from politicians across the ideological divide? Sirs, let's declare a 3-day national mourning, with the national flag at half-mast across the nation. A Bharat Ratna in due course, sirs?
Shiv Sena's disproportionate clout in Mumbai's politics and social life will forever remain an enigma. Here is a party that has repeatedly failed to measure up to much at the electoral hustings and yet continues to punch much above it's weight. The people of Mumbai don't vote them into any seat of legitimate power - is it cause they still haven't totally been turned by the politics of hate or cause the business-minded folks know that peace, justice and equality are pre-requisites for economic prosperity? Still, a word from the clan and the entire city grinds to a halt. The people of Mumbai have perhaps been granted an opportunity to set right much of what is wrong with their city. Will they take the bait and nip trouble in the bud and avoid history being revisited? The successors have rather large shoes to fill and it can be taken for granted that they will likely espouse even a more extreme thought and action - one hasn't even accounted for the competitive pressures that each individual legacy-inheritor of a likely divided house of the Thackerays will face from within and without to prove himself cut from the same cloth.
Mumbaikars, ask not for whom the bells toll cause they could very well toll for thee.