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Let there be a national Government to fight divisive forces of regionalism and sub regionalism.
Satbir Singh Bedi | 24 Mar 2008

In the early twentieth century, the country called India was a slave country and every leader was fired with nationalism to free the country from the foreign yoke.  Even Dr. Mohd. Iqbal and Jinnah who later became proponents of the idea of Pakistan, were at that period of time, pucca nationalist.  However, the cunning British people who ruled over us were able to divide us communally and Dr. Mohd. Iqbal and Jinnah became their tools to divide the country on communal basis.  The British were in fact able to sow the seeds of division in our politicians' minds by deftly displaying their policy of "Divide and Rule".  Indian leaders were able to learn nothing from British rulers such as their adherence to a cause and their spirit of nationalism, etc. but were able to imbibe into themselves the policy of "Divide and Rule".

When Nehru and Patel and Jinnah agreed to partition the country because Nehru wanted to be Prime Minister of India and Jinnah wanted to be Governor General of Pakistan and they were so anxious that they did not work out the modalities for the transfer of population with the result that millions of people were massacred and millions more were rendered homeless.  Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus all suffered equally in this regard.  One would have thought that with the declaration of State of Pakistan as Muslim state on communal grounds, the logical sequence would have been to declare India as Hindu state but Nehru and Gandhi did not let that happen, perhaps it was due to the fact that in many parts of the country, non-Hindus like Sikhs in PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union) and several districts of the then Punjab, Muslims in J&K and Christians in many districts of the then Assam outnumbered Hindus.  If India were to be declared a Hindu state then some more independent states would have to be carved in Punjab, J&K and Assam.  So, secularism became a necessity with India.

Meanwhile, some politicians in India started to divide and rule the Indian people by invoking regional feelings in them.  They founded regional parties to further their interests.  Shiv Sena  meaning Army of Shiva, referring to Shivaji,  a Hindu nationalist, militant nativist political party in India founded on June 19, 1966 by Bal Thackeray, who is currently the chief of the party, is one of the front runners among the regional parties propagating regionalism. Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav Thackeray is its president. The Sena's ideology is based on the concepts of 'Bhumiputra' (Marathi for "Sons of the Soil") and Hindutva or Hindu nationalism. The 'Bhumiputra' ideology refers to the Shiv Sena's belief that Maharashtrians (Marathi People) are superior in race and culture to the ones of rest of India, and that they deserve more rights in Maharashtra than those who are not from Maharashtra. In the Sixties, Bal Thackeray worked actively against Punjabis and South Indians settled in Maharashtra and wanted to cleanse Maharashtra of these elements. However, in subsequent times, the Sena has laid more emphasis on Hindutva but the revolt against Bal Thackeray led by his nephew, Raj Thackeray and the latter's emphasis on ridding Mahrashtra of U.P. wallah and Biharis with a view to winning over Maharashtrians as Vote Bank, forced Bal Thackeray also to play anti-Bihari card as he also does not want to lose Marathi votes.

In the South, DMK emerged as a regional party which propagated anti-Brahman theories and even secession from India for working out a separate Tamil State.  It traces its roots to the South Indian Liberal Federation (Justice Party) formed in 1916, by P. Thiyagarayar, Dr.P T Rajan, Dr. Natesanar and few others. The Justice Party, whose objectives included social equality and justice, came to power in the first General Elections to Chennai Presidency in 1920. E. V. Ramasami Naicker (known as "Periyar"), a popular Tamil leader, who had joined Indian National Congress in 1919, became disillusioned with what he considered as the Brahminic leadership of the party. He quit Congress and in 1935, he joined the Justice Party. In the 1937 elections, the Justice Party lost and the Indian National Congress under C. Rajagopalachari ("Rajaji") came to power in Madras Presidency. Rajaji's introduction of Hindi as a compulsory subject in schools led to the anti-Hindi agitations, led by Periyar and his associates. In August 1944, Periyar carved out the "Dravida Kazhagham" out of the Justice Party at the Salem Provincial Conference.

However, over the years, disputes arose between Periyar and his followers. In 1949, several of his followers led by C. N. Annadurai, decided to split from Dravida Kazhagham, after an aged Periyar married a young woman Nagammai and anointed his young wife to act as his successor to lead the party, superseding senior party leaders.

Annadurai, on September 17, 1949 along with V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, K.A.Mathialagan, K. Anbazhagan, E.V.K. Sampath and thousands of others in Robinson park in Royapuram in Chennai announced the formation of the DMK. Few months later M. Karunanidhi, left DK and joined the DMK. The DMK carried on the principles and aims of the Justice Party and Davida Kazhagam. The movement was initially mooted as one that championed the cause of socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the society. It was also sympathetic to the demand for a separate "Dravida Nadu" state.

DMK has been firmly in favour of reservation for the backward classes for social upliftment, and has increased reservation up to 69% the highest in the country. DMK along with Periyar forced the withdrawal of the Kula Kalvi Thittam of Rajaji where schools will work in the morning and students had to compulsorily learn the family vocation in the afternoon.

MGR was a member of the DMK, and he was seen as an icon of the DMK and spread its message through films like Anbe Vaa. In 1953 MGR joined the DMK popularised the party flag and symbol by showing it in his movies.Annadurai wanted a separate Dravida Nadu which he gave up after 1962 China War. The Anti-Hindi agitations of 1965, forced the Central Government to abandon its efforts to impose Hindi as the only official language of the country. In 1967, DMK came to power in Tamil Nadu in 1967, after the anti-Hindi tide helped it defeat the Congress.

With the passage of time and a shift in the national political scenario towards coalition governments, DMK adopted a more national outlook. It championed the cause of Tamil language and culture, and used its national clout to make Government of India declare Tamil as a classical language. DMK and its President MR.M.Karunanidhi was the main root cause of implementing Mandal Commission to provide rights to scheduled castes. This was also a ploy to divide and rule by invoking casteist feelings in the masses.  DMK was the cause for naming the state Tamilnadu as Tamilnadu instead of Madras state,and also Madras as Chennai.In 2008 DMK announced "Thai" as the first month for Tamils instead of following the Sanskrit way.

The DMK is also sympathetic to the freedom struggle in and of Tamil Eelam. It split over the past three decades into the AIADMK in the 1970s and the MDMK in the 1990s.

Similarly, SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) with its various factions emerged as a communal as well as regional party, some factions of which wanted a buffer state of Khalistan to woo Sikh voters.  Similarly, various regional parties like Telugu Desham, Asom Gana Parishad, etc. emerged as leading regional parties.

The main national level parties like Congress, BJP and CPM, CPI, etc. have supported these regional parties from time to time as a case of political expediency.  This has sown the seeds of Balkanization of the nation.  To overcome this, the national level parties should cease to support regional and communal parties like Muslim League, SAD, DMK, AIADMK, Shiv Sena, etc. and form a national Government just as the main national level parties have formed a national Government in Germany.  We should in no case divide this great Nation.  However, now we see that a far more dangerous trend than regionalism is taking place which is the emergence of separate movements for creation of Vidarbha, Telangana State etc.  Such movements are likely to give a jolt to Thackerays also and further divide the nation. It is quite regretful that Congress, a main national party fought the last elections with the support of a sub-regional party that wanted the creation of a separate State of Telangana.  My request to both Congress and BJP would be not to support regional or sub regional parties like Shiv Sena, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, etc. and in place of the support of such divisive forces, form a national Government which may act in the interests of India and India only.