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www.marathikatta.com - Raj thackeray interview by shobha de - Mumbai mirror

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Ilike Raj Thackeray. I don't like his methods. He is dynamic, charismatic and hugely intelligent. I suspect he met me because of my maiden surname (Rajadhyaksha), and the fact that whether he likes it or not, I am a Marathi manoos. The interview was conducted in Marathi at Raj and Sharmila's Shivaji Park residence. Ironically, it was Gandhi Jayanti — non-violence day! Raj was chivalrous enough to seek my permission to puff away. Well... it was his home. His lungs. Each time I said Bombay (force of habit), Raj would immediately correct me with a sharp "Mumbai... Mumbai." Impassioned and politically incorrect throughout, Raj responded to the questions with customary confidence... though the tape recorder was switched off a couple of times at his request. There were gifts galore ( including a bottle of Moet) carelessly strewn all over the busy household, filled with visitors nervously putting up with Raj's pet — a noisy pug, Simba. Perhaps its bark is worse than its bite? As we hope is his master's...
SD: Today is non-violence day. What is your message? RT: I feel Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence was for the intelligent, educated British. It was not for those who don't understand this language. Those circumstances don't exist today.
SD: Is Gandhiji relevant to the common public? RT: The point is the Mahatma gave the call of swadeshi and khadi. That Congress is being run by a foreign woman today. What could be more contradictory than this?
SD: How did Sharad Pawar accept her? RT: Don't bring up the subject of Sharad Pawar. His politics is different. He created a political party based on the 'swadeshi, pardeshi' fact. And now he is with the Congress. So it's better not to speak about him because this has been going on for many years. I only want to say, the population of India is about 100 to 125 crores. Am I opposing Sonia Gandhi on a personal level? There is no reason for that. But from among the 100 to 125 crore population, such a big party found a woman from outside the country. We were speaking about Gandhi. I was punning on swadeshi and videshi.
SD: But you have not answered the question on violence. Whether you endorse it… RT: I am not Mahatma Gandhi. And secondly, I speak to people in the language they understand. First I have a dialogue, if that is not understood I speak in another language. There is no remedy for this.
SD: Had I not been a Marathi manoos, would you still have met me? Suppose my Marathi is not good enough... RT: Marathi is not good enough? Understand my main issue. If you understand the issue you will understand what I am saying. Since my childhood I have been attending Durga Puja with my mother, at Shivaji Park. What's the connection? I was going anyway.
SD: But if those Bengali people cannot speak in Marathi, then? RT: Let me complete talking about the issue. Since I was a child, I have seen the Ram Lila near my house. The question is not who should live here and who shouldn't. When states were created on linguistic basis, who went where? Today many Marathi people live outside the state. Similarly, people from other states live in Maharashtra. Whoever lives in whichever state should learn the culture of the state and its language.
SD: What if a Maharashtrian living in Kerala is told, 'you can't speak Malayalam, so get out.' RT: If that happens, the Malayalees are right.
SD: Taking the democracy argument further, in a country like India, who decides which person has the right to be in whichever part of the country? RT: India is like Europe. This means there is one currency and numerous languages and cultures. And this is a 'Europe' made up of various cultures.
SD: Like federal states. RT: Yes. In all this, our states came into being because of languages and cultures, right? When Lal Krishna Advani goes to the South he speaks in English instead of Hindi. Why? Why are we being forced with a dosage of Hindi? You learn our Marathi.
SD: Hindi has been declared the national language, that's why. RT: Where is it a national language? SD: Officially it is the national language. RT: That is what I am saying. Let's check its history. Hindi is a state language. It was declared the national language in a Congress session. We can speak on this with proof later. It is the national language. I respect it. But why won't anyone learn Marathi? It is my own language. If you go to France, you have to speak French. If you speak in English, no one looks at you. On the one hand we say English is a global language.
SD: Yes it is. It is the language of commerce, the language of the people. RT: I agree. But are these countries willing to agree? No one tells them anything. Hindi is not spoken in any of the four southern states. No one says anything to them. No one tells them it is the national language. No one tells them if you don't speak Hindi the country will be divided. Don't you want the country to be united? No one gives them such advice.
I am making things simpler. I am
saying learn Marathi. How can you put our language as an optional subject and tell us to speak Hindi?
SD: What I am saying is, suppose someone who lives here and is contributing to Maharashtra, Mumbai, but doesn't know Marathi, is that person's contribution any less? RT: It is not about contribution. They should learn Marathi.
SD: Isn't that some kind of jabardasti? RT: They don't understand any other language but jabardasti. My plea to teach Marathi in schools was not heard either. If this is your attitude, we will do jabardasti.
SD: But then your own children went to an English medium school. RT: What's the connection? I am saying non-Marathi people should know Marathi, not that Marathi people should know Marathi.
SD: Isn't that a double standard? RT: How is that linked? I will tell you the same thing again; I am not concerned with how many languages you should know.
SD: This is nothing but politics of language. RT: No. This is a matter of self-esteem, of pride.
I am talking of the new people here, those who have arrived recently. There are Bengalis here. But I have never seen Jyoti Basu or Bhattacharya come here and give speeches to them. Tamilians live here. I have never seen Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa come here and give them speeches like, 'Come together Tamilians' etc.
SD: And for a vote bank. And this is Mayawati's long-term plan. RT: Not just Mayawati. Even Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad, everyone.
SD: What do they want? RT: They want to capture Maharashtra. If you see state-wise, even today Maharashtra is No 1.
SD: Even though we are bankrupt, more or less? RT: How is that associated with this? Andhra Pradesh is more in debt than Maharashtra. The development coming into the country today is going to
other states. But Maharashtra is still
No 1 with the kind of development
we have. Perhaps this might not be so
later if Maharashtra does not pay attention today.
SD: If we want to attract that kind of funding, how will we be able to get it with such parochial thinking? RT: Why did BMW go to Tamil Nadu? It is due to the attitude. In the absence of our chief minister, a Tamilian IAS officer spoke to the BMW representatives and kept saying no to them, creating obstacles.
SD: Because Mercedes was here? RT: No. BMW really wanted to come here. But the IAS officer said we don't want to do this, we don't want to do that. They left. After this that IAS officer called up his Tamilian colleague in Tamil Nadu and told him to contact BMW. They were given all kinds of facilities and BMW is in that state.
SD: Does that reflect corruption at IAS level or is it a bigger plan? RT: It is like this, most people think 'it's my region, language and people'.
SD: Where does Maharashtra pale in comparison and why? RT: There is no political will. The subject about BMW is pending. The other day there was a report which I will send to you if you want, the foreigners who have come to Tamil Nadu with BMW, are learning Tamil.
SD: That is an interesting point. Are the Mercedes people in Pune speaking Marathi? RT: No. There is not even flag-hoisting in that Mercedes school. They were told 'In this country, in this state, all schools hoist the flag, and then the students are given the day off. You should also do this.' Their reply was, 'We will not do it.'
SD: Why do you think the Maharashtrian manoos lacks the killer instinct that we see in other states? RT: Those who govern us have become mentally corrupt. Ultimately they are the ones who influence masses. Through the elections in Gujarat, each time two Gujaratis came face to face here, they said "Om Namah Namah". They meant Om Narendra Modi Namah.
SD: What do you think of him? RT: He is a very good administrator. He has been called all kinds of names. Some of my Muslim friends said 'Whatever happened in Godhra etc, is okay. But the way Modi is leading progress in Gujarat, we wonder why we came back here? We feel like going back.'
SD: Does Maharashtra need a Narendra Modi? RT: Hundred per cent. SD: Who would that person be? RT: If I had the chance, I will straighten things in Maharashtra.
SD: Switching to a more recent topic, Amitabh apologised on Jaya's behalf... was it because you had threatened to stop Drona's release? RT: Drona had nothing to do with it. (Producer of Drona) Goldie is my friend.
SD: You think Jaya's remarks were politically motivated? RT: Hundred per cent. If she is a Samajwadi Party MP and if I have an issue with these very people, then why shouldn't I view them from that angle? She had also moved a private member's proposal in Rajya Sabha to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra. Why should I look at them kindly?
SD: Who decides what's good for the state and what's not? RT: People know, I know. When I say something, people react.
SD: Why don't you get mass support, then? RT: Come with me, and you'll know... I'll show you my mass support.
SD: But only this morning, whatever your intentions were in supporting Balasaheb, have been rejected. He has called you a traitor, a back-stabber and more in the Saamana editorial. RT: Let me tell you, Balasaheb doesn't write the edits any more. For the last several years, someone else is writing the edits for him. Earlier, someone else used to speak through him. Now, someone is writing on his behalf.
SD: They're putting words in his mouth? RT: Balasaheb has nothing to do with all this. Did I ever say that Sena should not raise the issue? Did I say that I am doing it because Sena is useless? I said this was an insult to Maharashtra. When you insult the state leader, you are insulting the state. This is what I said about Sharad Pawar on May 3.
SD: The other people are more powerful than Balasaheb? RT: Yes, they are now running the party.
SD: Which means he is completely a toothless tiger? RT: I won't say that. After all, there is the age factor. I had said this in an interview earlier and I say it again — you'll know what it means when you turn 82.
The editorials are written by Sanjay Raut.
SD: Suppose Balasaheb asks you to come back. RT: I never had an issue with him. SD: He's still the head of party. RT: No, he's not... someone else is. He is only there for the sake of it. Someone else runs the party.
SD: The person you're not naming... is he Uddhav? RT: Whoever... SD: Suppose Uddhav phones you, suppose his father asks him to… RT: No, no, no… I don't want to talk about this.
SD: Are you looking at a future takeover or merger with Sena? May be after Balasaheb? RT: No, I don't think about that. I am working with my party, my people in Maharashtra.
SD: What's the ultimate objective? CM of Maharashtra? PM of India? RT: First and foremost, I have named my party as Maharashtra Navnirmaan Sena. I don't want to go beyond Maharashtra's boundaries. My MPs will go — they must, because they need to work for the state.
SD: The impression is that you are one of the biggest landlords in India? RT: I'll be happy if I am. SD: So it's not true? Are you one of the biggest in Maharashtra? RT: Go, count my property and tell me if I am. You are talking about Kohinoor. It's not with me. It's with the IL&FS. The headlines look great: Raj buys Kohinoor for Rs 421 crore. Where did I get Rs 421 crore?
SD: Tell us... RT: IL&FS was our third partner. We were one-third partners each. You know when the politicians speak, people think otherwise. I was sitting in this hall outside. Since childhood, we have been playing and going around Shivaji Park. Shiv Sena Bhavan was here. I have a construction business.
SD: As a politician, how important is money? RT: Most important. What can you run without money?
SD: The young Maharashtrians, even those living around Shivaji Park, young educated, restless Maharashtrians... do they subscribe to your tactics? RT: Tactics? SD: Yes, tactics. Using force on people, throwing stones, pelting cars, destroying property... do they approve of it? Don't you think you're giving Bombay a very bad name? RT: Mumbai. SD: Ok, Mumbai. RT: If this is giving a bad name to Mumbai, then what do you say of the 1992-93 riots? Did the industries not come to Maharashtra at all? The point is this — you don't take away my rights, I won't take yours.
SD: Do you justify Hitler's tactics? RT: Yes, I do. If you don't understand my point of view, I'll have to do this. For me, Maharashtra's pride is most important. Maharashtra is for Marathi manoos. Will you say England belongs to other nationals because they are there in large numbers?
SD: But what if our people don't have a pioneering spirit, why should you blame others? RT: But they do. Page Three culture does not represent all the industry. There are many who are doing their work. Let's take Chitale Bandhu. Their turnover is over Rs 500-700 crore. They don't figure on Page Three, so they are not called industrialists.
SD: Couple of final questions: the Nanavati Commission, what do you feel about it? RT: I think we must understand what happened there. It's not only about Narendra Modi. It's about the masses.
SD: He represents a certain phase in history. They will say it happened in Modi's era. RT: It did. Ok. The issue is there are blasts all over the country. What will you do?
SD: How do you rate the Mumbai Police? RT: I have full faith in them. Give them full freedom. They'll end this in 10 days. What they showed in A Wednesday, which I recently watched, is true. Anupam Kher demands complete control.
SD: But should every citizen take the law into his own hands like Naseeruddin Shah's character? Should they be using RDX to settle scores? RT: Correct. That's what I am saying. People hand over the power to you with immense faith. It's your job to ensure tough implementation of laws.
SD: So... who isn't doing it? RT: The government. The Chief Minister, the deputy Chief Minister, the Home Minister... everybody wants votes.
SD: Whose votes? RT: Muslim votes. The ministers are scared if they take action, carry out combing operation, the Muslim vote will go against the Congress government.
SD: Are you saying that innocents' killing is justified? RT: Why are you asking me? Those days are gone when they said that never mind if 100 guilty were scot free but one innocent shouldn't be punished. It's the absolute opposite that's going on today. They are coming at us and we are doing nothing. Mumbai police have the capability to end this menace in just 10 days.
SD: Somebody like Sanjay Dutt, with his criminal record... RT: What should I say about him? Should I say good about his films or ill about his record?
SD: Should the system permit someone like Sanjay to contest elections? Why not Abu Salem then? RT: There are scores of others. Phoolandevi contested from jail and won. That's where democracy should be redefined.
SD: Rahul Gandhi as PM? RT: I don't know. I've never met him. SD: Is he worthy? RT: Those who had experience, have ruined this country for last 60 years. Let's ruin it for five more years by giving it to new people.
SD: Mayawati or L K Advani? RT: Advani. He has been there for so many years, has been the deputy Prime Minister.
SD: What's your personal fear? RT: I am scared of my dogs running around without a leash.
SD: What about your style statement? You're a sharp dresser, you have expensive tastes, pens, watches. RT: I wear a shirt, trousers. I get them stitched at Gabana, the local tailor; not from Dolce and Gabbana. No designers for me. I am most comfortable in kurta-pyjama when I am travelling. What is more important is what I do. Not what I wear. For instance, Narayan Rane moves around in a suit. If he's doing good work in Sindhudurg, it doesn't matter whether he's wearing a kurta-pajama or a dhoti.
SD: How do you relax? RT: Reading. I read biographies. Hitler, Indira Gandhi.
SD: Hitler as a hero? RT: You know I think Gandhiji was the greatest leader in India in the last century. Similarly, Hitler's commitment to the German nation-building is historical. No one will support his genocide of Jews.
SD: Your strategy — Maharashtra for Maharashtrians... how is it so different from Hitler's? Who is an outsider? RT: Those who don't accept the official language here are outsiders. Marathi is local. Those who have come from outside but have accepted this state as theirs are locals. I have several Gujarati friends who have lived here for generations. They speak in Marathi.
SD: Does Ratan Tata speak Marathi? RT: I don't know, but JRD did. Let's not involve Ratan Tata in this. He has his industries all over, he goes out in the world. He belongs to India. Let's not confine him. Anil Ambani speaks Marathi.
SD: Non-Marathi speaking elite are welcome and not those poor outsiders. RT: You may ask these questions in other states. If you want to do business, you learn the official language. I don't need any certificate. Don't Marwaris learn Bengali when they set up business in Bengal? In other states, they take it in writing that 80 percent jobs will be for locals. You can't buy land in Himachal Pradesh if you are an outsider. Why not advise them?
SD: Should we reproduce that model here? RT: Yes, we must. Change the rest of the country and then come to us. We always thought of others, they don't think of us. We will not live on their terms and conditions. They must live on ours. And if you see a dictator in me, I am fine with it. So be it.
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