It is a welcome sign that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have stepped in to stop the anti-north Indian politics that has gripped Maharashtra for some time now.
Anti-north Indian politics in the state owes its origins to the competition between the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Alarmingly, it gained acceptability with the ruling Congress party as well. The move to restrict taxi driving licences to Marathi-speaking persons was a sign of this.
Rhetoric notwithstanding, the BJP has calculated well. In the fight between the Sena and the MNS, it sees some political space that it can occupy without having to play second fiddle to regional parties in the state. There is nothing “nationalistic” about this.
The larger question that needs to be answered is: what is fuelling this politics? It is easy to dub it as “Marathi fascism”, but this cannot evade the fact that politics has its origins in real life and not in ideas alone. A good place to seek an answer would be the crowded and seemingly hopeless slums of Mumbai.