Saturday, December 6, 2008

Politicians' Apathy Is Terrorism's Victory

On December 3, citizens in Mumbai came out on streets in huge numbers to show their solidarity as well as to vent their anger. The solidarity was for the brave who endured the 60-hour-long siege in Mumbai and who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the nation. The anger was, probably as usual, for the politicians. People were angry with the “political class” and the way it handled the drama that followed the Mumbai attacks. In hushed up tones, a war of words, passing the buck and mud slinging started among these so called “constituents of governments”. This degraded the importance of the unmatchable show of courage enacted by our soldiers who fought till their last breath.

The December 3 thronging of the “ground-zero” by people in Mumbai was not an ordinary protest. It was a mental “volcano” that erupted after a high pressure developed in peoples’ psyche. It was a movement against the incompetence of the government which has failed to protect its citizens. The young, men and women had gathered around Gateway of India and were holding placards that censured the “political class”. Many of them carried the candles for performing the candle light vigil. Ironically the word “vigil” is the pivotal point on which the sphere of the ongoing conflict is revolving.
Peoples’ movements break out due to step motherly treatment meted out to their grievances. Such unheard off complaints evoke a feeling of hatred among the masses. People feel being pushed to the corner. With a desire to reoccupy their lost space in the centre, they mobilize themselves to salvage their belongings; in this case their common cause. These endeavors produce results that tilt masses either to the right or to the left of the centre.

The worst scenario emerges when the overlooked grievances take ugly turn and undergo a deadly transition. It is the point where movements don the attire of rebellion. Rebellions occur as people feel that they are being denied their share of “space” or their grievances are not resolved in “time”. Time and space are not merely concepts; they are phenomena, which effect change; a transition.

During the extraordinary demonstration of December 3, people shouted anti-government and anti-Pakistan slogans; an act justifiable in its every aspect. The harshness of slogans determines the extent of peoples’ involvement in any given conflict. The degree of protestors’ anger can be judged by having an understanding of what they wanted to communicate through these slogans. They shouted against Pakistan. They vented their anger on governments’ apathy and inability to curb terrorism. Democratic process of election came at demonstrators’ receiving end. They hinted to boycott elections and threatened that they will abstain from voting and will not pay taxes.

The fallout of 26/11 did cost India’s home minister Shivraj Patil his chair and has opened a Pandora’ Box for the political class. As, the “ground zero” was the capital of Maharashtra, it affected the political equations in the state drastically. Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy R R Patil were forced to resign from their posts. If anyone has followed the media coverage of 26/11 and the “political drama” that followed it, can without hesitation say how apathetic our political class has become.

People always embrace the shift in power with open arms provided it is done with the intention of benefiting the common man. The ouster of Vilasrao Deshmukh and R R Patil in Maharashtra has triggered a tug of war among the frontrunners for the “coveted” posts. It has kick-started another rat race in the political arena. The lust for chair has made them mute, blind and deaf. These politicians have forgotten what had happened only a few weeks ago.

Four shameful incidents occurred after the deadly 60-hour-long siege was over. These incidents have put a big question mark on the credibility of our politicians. Interestingly out of three, two did forc the “high commands” to strip Deshmukh and his deputy Patil from their portfolios.

1) After the siege was over, Deshmukh escorted by an entourage of officials visited the Taj. It would have been another ordinary official visit if his “touring” convoy did not have his actor son Ritesh Deshmukh and filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma.

It is not surprising that with what purpose a filmmaker like Ram Gopal Varma would visit a “ground zero”. The visuals showing Ram Gopal Varma and Ritesh Deshmukh and the manner they walked through the debris make their purpose crystal clear. The question that needs to be answered is why such extraneous people were allowed to visit the “ground zero” when even the elected representatives were barred from entering the Taj?

2) Deputy chief minister R R Patil did not lag behind from his political superior. In a press conference he went on to say about 26/11 that “such small things happen in big cities.” What followed is the history. People don’t need an explanation. The need of the hour is that our politicians had woken up to the reality and reformed themselves to reform the nation.

3) Ashok Chavan replaced Vilasrao Deshmukh as chief minister of Maharashtra. Congress high commnad’s decision of appointing Chavan as the state legislature party head did not go down well with a former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane who had earlier defected from Shiv Sena and joined Congress.

On December 5 he convened a press conference and used derogatory language against Ashok Chavan. Rane said, “Ashok Chavan mera spardhak hai kya?” Is Ashok Chavan my competitor? He went on to say that the only criterion he (Ashok Chavan) has is that he is “son” of fromer chief minister Shankarrao Chavan.

4) Kerala chief minister V S Achutanandan wanted to pay homage to the “martyr” major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who gave his life to save the nation during 26/11 operations. He visited Unnikrishnan’s family but was not allowed to enter his house. The incident outraged Achutanandan to such an extent that he said to a TV channel, “If Unnikirshnan not in the Army and did not sacrifice his life, even a dog would not have liked to visit his house.”

This is the mentality of our politicians who instead of running the state are threatening its existence by eroding its foundations through their unacceptable deeds. Isn’t it the time of indulging in constructive politics? When will our politicians play a uniting role to disunite the destructive powers? It does not seem possible in near future.

December 3 demonstrations may provoke peoples’ minds. The government should not take this unique development for granted. What was only an ordinary protest can distract peoples’ psyche. They may opt for retaliatory actions. The situation arising as a result of such retaliatory actions will not do any good for the nation. What is needed to be done is a thorough overhauling of our “political system”. Instead of finding scapegoats we should find the real causes behind our inability to tackle terrorism.

Tackling the outer enemy is much easier than the inner one. Incidents like December 3 demonstration can have huge repercussions; preventing that will be tantamount to bringing the Sun from the west. Only a sincere and concerted effort can be a solution to the menace. Those sitting at the power corridors should make it sure that December 3 does not turn into a rebellion.