The current spat between Bal Thackeray and Sachin Tendulkar reminds me of a scene from the movie Chak De India. As the girls introduce themselves to Shahrukh Khan as "Balbir Kaur, Punjab!", "Komal Chautala, Haryana!", Shahrukh says - "Mujhe states ki naam na sunayie dethe hai, na dikhai dete hai. Sirf ek mulk-a-naam sunayie detha hai, I-N-D-I-A!!".
We Indians are unabashedly patriotic when it comes to sport. With all due respect to state teams, I think no one gives a damn when the Tamil Nadu cricket team defeats Maharashtra, or vice versa. But the international arena is one area where all of India unites together to support the team. Sachin is as equally loved by the rest of India, as is by Marathis. An achievement at the international level in any field, be it sport, literature or science, should be celebrated across the country. All of Sachin's achievements have been as an Indian batsman, not as a Mumbai batsman, so I think it is perfectly right for Sachin to say that he is an Indian first.
In today's pluralistic society (or is it?) such regionalism by Shiv Sena is a shame for Indian politics. I can only view it as a last-ditch attempt by the Sena to regain its stature, as it approaches its inevitable demise, caused due to a not-so-charismatic scion, as well as a super-aggressive rebel who's snatched the Sena's positioning from right under its nose.