This is not about what Mee Mumbaikar really means. I believe
I am not close enough to the Mumbai culture even after living
here for 10 years to make an informed opinion about it. However,
I have been observing the Shiv Sena and its political/social
activities for a while and probably can say something sensible
Mee Mumbaikar right now is a phrase adopted by the Shiv Sena,
and in many ways, identified with their campaign to play to
Marathi parochial sentiments.
So the English speaking or cosmopolitan Mumbaikar is led to
believe by the various statements emanating from Sena quarters
that this is a campaign against them. That the Sena does not
want them around. That Mumbai is for Maharashtrians. That Mee
Mumbaikar can only be a marathi manus. Let us try to sift the
actual message of Sena's Mee Mumbaikar from their own propaganda
The Shiv Sena would like Maharashtrians to believe that
the Mee Mumbaikar campaign is to protect Marathi culture from
outsiders. The outsiders in this case mean North Indians, South
Indians, Muslims and the English-speaking classses who smooch
and booze on page 3. The point is, the Shiv Sena would like the
Maharashtrians to BELIEVE so. For the Sena, this is a nice play
on Marathi sentiments - let's reclaim our city as our own!
Fortunately, this is not so. The Sena is parochial, and
frankly, would like to drive everyone away and turn Mumbai into
the ultimate Maharashtrian dream. However, they are clever
enough to know that this is not practical. But it is a dream
still, and what harm is there in pretending to your votebank
that you are actually moving in that direction? Even the
votebank would like to think that the Sainiks can do it, and may
be doing something about it. But the votebank is also clear that
it is not practical, and will be satisfied with some small
victories in that direction.
In their public meetings, Saamna and the statements of the
leaders targeted to the Marathi community, the Sena PRETENDS
that the campaign is to oust the non-Marathi classes. Makes
everyone feel good.
However, every time they have to face the English media or TV
channels, they have steadfastly refused to do so. I have watched
the Sena leaders several times on Aaj Tak and NDTV, declaring in
loud voices that the Mee Mumbaikar campaign is not against non-Maharashtrians.
It is not even against those who have arrived in the city
post-1994! The few Mahashtrians I know to whom I related how
Sanjay Nirupam and Pramod Navalkar aggressively denied any such
suggestions, were shell-shocked. That is not what we have been
told. We have been told that a Mumbaikar is a Maharashtrian. We
have been told that all those who came after 1994 should leave.
We have been told that Mee Mumbaikar is a campaign to preserve
Marathi culture in Mumbai, and in effect, against other
Why is the Shiv Sena playing this double-faced game?
There could be a clue in what Sanjay Nirupam and Pramod
Navalkar says on TV. Navalkar says, "It is not against any
of you in this audience, it is not against non-Maharashtrians,
it is not against people like you in this audience!" Then
who is it against? "Mee Mumbaikar campaign is against those
Bangladeshis and outsiders who come to Mumbai, work here and
stay in the slums and ruin the city!"
My guess is: This is what the Sena really means. The Mee
Mumbaikar campaign is an electoral strategy to play on
Maharashtrian sentiments to generate support for themselves
during the next elections. The Sena knows that it is not
possible for them to reclaim Mumbai, though they would like to.
So - play on sentiments, shout Mee Mumbaikar!, get
elected, and put the practical aspect of the campaign into
action - try and drive out Bangladeshi Muslims and illegal or
non-Sainik slumdwellers from Mumbai.
Tell me what you think.