I am as Maharashtrian as varan bhaat, which I love. It is the best kind of comfort food — bland, unspiced, velvety and filling. I like to think most Maharashtrians are like varan bhaat — mild, easy-to-digest and likeable. Left to themselves, they prefer to mind their own business and get on with life. And there lies the key — ‘left to themselves’. Unfortunately, the time has come to admit that perhaps they are not being left to themselves. Opportunistic politicians have swiftly jumped in to profit from their discomfiture and frustration. The minute an ambitious, misguided chef takes it upon himself to add heavy- duty masala to varan bhaat and modify its taste, it ceases to be varan bhaat.
So, let this be a given — Mumbai belongs to all those who live here and love it. Therefore, the question of keeping anybody out of this magnetic metropolis does not arise. Several manipulative attempts have been made by politicians to reclaim the city and rid it of ‘outsiders’. These attempts have failed simply because people have seen through the hollowness of the movement.
Maharashtrians themselves have questioned the selfish motives of parochial political parties and rejected their narrow-minded agendas. The ‘test’ is simple: Any politician claiming to help the ‘Marathi Manoos’ must begin at the beginning — first improve the lives of the local people through education and employment, dedication and sacrifice. Give the people better healthcare, roads, schools, hospitals, water. And stop this nonsensical ‘outsider-insider’ talk which is dangerous. In short, only two categories can be allowed to exist in our democracy — Indian and non-Indian. That’s where it begins and ends. Jai Maharashtra!