I am usually nice to politicians. I think we malign them too much; fail to understand their contribution to society. All of us armchair critics simply cannot get it that many of them are genuine leaders of our society; people who stick their neck out to make things better for us. There are the black sheep of course, but we tend to paint all of them with large simplistic brush strokes. However, two recent incidents have made me join the chorus of politician bashers. One, the demand that Sanjay Dutt’s sentence be pardoned, and another, the suspension of the Mumbai cop (Suryavanshi) who dared to book an MLA for speeding on the Bandra Worli sea link.
The politicians have behaved in the most shameful manner in both these cases. Take the Sanjay Dutt matter. On what grounds can he be condoned? Or his sentence remitted? Is it not true that he was in possession of three AK-56 rifles? Isn’t it true that these guns are not mere toys, but full-fledged assault rifles, used by terrorists to assassinate large numbers of innocent people? Isn’t it also true that he acquired these guns from noted criminal Abu Salem? Why was he even keeping Salem’s company? Whatever his grounds may have – immaturity, recklessness, a wasted childhood, stress – whatever…..the fact remains that he was arrested for a wretched act of crime on which two courts – the TADA court and even the SC – have confirmed jail sentences for him. On what grounds can an appeal of pardon even be considered by the Governor? How can the Governor condone an act of crime which is linked to terrorism?
By no stretch of imagination is this a case of celeb victimization. Sanjay Dutt is not being harassed. He is being mollycoddled. Outlandish reasons are being floated for his pardon. Apparently, because he played the role of a lovable goon-turned-doctor, Munnabhai, and extolled the virtues of Gandhigiri, he must be spared. Really? So an actor who plays the role of a criminal in a film should be arrested right? And how many such people wont take to Gandhigiri if they can escape the prospect of going to jail? A Bollywood veteran said that “Sanjay has suffered enough”, hence he must be pardoned. Really? What about the lacs of similar people who suffer for decades and for whom no one cares? And its appalling that a generally sensible person like Justice Markandey Katju should join the brigade of such wayward people – in fact, he was the first one off the block. Can he first answer the questions I have raised? Those who still have doubts about this subject should read Shekhar Gupta in last Saturday’s editorial page piece “Our poor little Sanju” in the Indian Express, and their minds will be cleared.
In the beginning, when a few voices demanding that Sanjay Dutt be pardoned emerged, I thought they would die down. But the clamour for his release has only grown. The movement is snowballing; forcing me to write on this subject today. Almost all of Bollywood is crooning for his release now. Most politicians – at the state and central levels – are asking for the same. Most media outlets are going along as well. In this bizarre scenario, I am delighted that the BJP (and now, also the Shiv Sena) have decided to support the rule of law. Whatever their reasons – maybe it is Sanjay Dutt’s Congress connections which motivates them – it is good that the BJP has decided not to join the demand for his release. By standing out, the party has demonstrated that no matter how big or small the convict, the same rules apply.
Then the other incident in which an ordinary traffic cop dared to intercept the vehicle of an MLA in Mumbai for speeding. Apparently, some sort of a verbal duel ensued. The MLA probably thought that he was some sort of a privileged god; that he was above the law. He and others of his ilk summoned the cop to Mantralaya and thrashed the daylight of this poor soul. To the extent, that the poor cop is struggling in a hospital. As if this was not enough, the cop has now been suspended, for his “rude behavior”. I find it impossible to believe that an ordinary, simple cop on the road would start off by being rude; especially with a politician, who must without doubt have been flashing his “red beacon”. Apparently, RR Patil, the Home Minister came under pressure from the opposition, because in another incident in the state a year back, no action had been taken against some cops who assaulted an MNS MLA in Aurangabad. As if two wrongs can make something right, Patil went ahead and suspended this Mumbai cop. What can be more vindictive than this? What can be more evidence that the Maharashtra government – and all politicians belonging to all parties – care little for the law? What can be more unacceptable than politicians demanding they be treated as the privileged class? That the laws be set aside for them?
These two incidents should be panned across media. We are the ones who make celebs, celebs. We are the ones who make politicians, politicians. Even if we cannot make them answerable to us, we should make sure that they don’t take us for granted. If ever there was a movement – a street demonstration, a hunger strike – needed, it is now. This time in Mumbai. I don’t particularly like Anna Hazare, but if there is one way he can regain his credibility, it is now. Mumbai and Maharashtra are his “karma bhoomi”; its time he or someone like him came forward and took these goons on.
The real truth is that politicians have challenged us by seeking a privileged status for themselves. Ditto, the celebrities. It’s time we put together a fight. In whichever way we can. I have done so by writing this post. You can do so by starting a viral campaign online. Others who feel up to it can take to street demonstrations. Whatever, lets not take this lying down….