Monday, October 14, 2013

MP tragedy exposes BJP’s double standards….

I was shocked to watch the TV channels last night and see BJP spokespeople trying to deflect the blame for the temple tragedy in MP onto the “district administration”, as if that was a body alien to the government. There was no acceptance of the government’s failure, no remorse for the tragedy, no concern for the stories of police conduct emanating from the tragedy site and certainly no explanation for why the incident had recurred yet again under the same CM’s watch.

No one was blaming the CM for having personally killed the people. The question one was raising was about basic governance. Why were so few cops provided when so many lacs were expected to be in attendance? Is it true that the cops were busy taking bribes and allowing tractors onto the bridge where they were not permitted? Is it also true that no senior administration official was available to take care of the arrangements before the tragedy; and more shockingly, after the tragedy as well? And lastly, is it true that the cops – reportedly under pressure from the “administration” to report a lower body count – were pushing dead bodies, young children and the injured into the river, unmindful of the fate that awaited them? These are disgusting stories, and yet there was no acknowledgment or denial by the state government. All that Shivraj Singh Chauhan said was “The focus should be on attending to the injured”. By throwing them into the river???

The whole effort of Nirmala Sitaraman was to make it a problem of the district administration. “Shield the CM” was her only mission. She had for support the BJP-leaning (or should we say Congress-hating) ex-cop Kiran Bedi, who called managing crowds of this sort “routine police duty”, something “they are trained for”. If both these ladies had the authority, they would have sacked the whole administration there and then. But none had an explanation for the inaction of the state government since 2006, when 50 people had died at the same place.

Then, there was an attempt to show that similar tragedies had taken place in Congress ruled states. Of course they had. And the BJP had not lost a second in blaming the Congress CM in those states. Even in Uttarkhand, the party blamed the “government”, not the administration, and demanded the CM’s resignation ( Why was it then not open to the same criticism of its own government and CM? How is it that the party loves to attack the Congress on some issue of morality or governance; but hates accepting the application of the same principle to itself when the tables turn?

The PM nominee of the party – the messiah as projected – likewise refused to take responsibility or demonstrate superior governance when floods recently ravaged parts of Gujarat. The administration was found to be sleeping. The CM was busy trying to become the PM, giving speeches on his governance style, unmindful of the truth in his home state (not without reason is he called #feku!). Maybe Modi knew of this vulnerability of his; that’s why he chose not to seize the opportunity and finish Shivraj Singh Chauhan once and for all (Modi spares no one who challenges him). Maybe that’s why the heavy tweeter chose not to tweet about the governance failure in MP, preferring ironically, to give one more speech on “Effective governance in democracy: Gujarat experience”. All he tweeted was “Saddened by unfortunate stampede at Ratangarh temple. Spoke to Shivraj ji and expressed my condolences. Prayers with victims and families”. Saddened? But what else? Why did he not cancel his speech? Why did he not fly himself and his efficient bureaucrats to the state, like he had done to Uttarakhand, to rescue “thousands” stuck there? Was Uttarakhand just political grandstanding?

Party President, Rajnath Singh was no better. In fact, he had nothing to say at all, preferring instead to tour Muzaffarnagar and demand a CBI inquiry for the riots there. What about a CBI inquiry in MP? Double standards!

And what about the CM himself? He never responded to Digvijay Singh’s accusation “Postings of Collectors and Superintendent of Police (SP) in districts have been done on the basis of money they collect. It is a common practice during BJP rule and those getting appointed in such a manner hardly care for an action in the event of a lapse on their part”. Why? If he had a clear conscience, shouldn’t he have challenged that? All he said was that such incidents shouldn’t recur in the future. But wouldn’t he have said the same thing in 2006? And when he says the “guilty will be punished”, what authority did he have left knowing full well that his own government was accused of corruption over the postings of police officials.

There is nothing particularly unique about the MP tragedy. India has seen many such under all parties. But it’s because the BJP keeps taunting the Congress on governance failures, projecting itself as being much better in contrast, that people are now asking it tough questions. If it said Bahuguna was responsible for the Uttarakhand tragedy (when in fact, it was the BJP that had ruled the state for five years just before the tragedy) and demanded his resignation, then why did it not say Shivraj Singh Chauhan was responsible, and sack him? Can the “party with a difference” (I don’t hear them claiming that too much these days!), please be different and blame even its own leaders?

The real truth is that time and again, the BJP’s double standards get exposed. On corruption, when it blew the CAG’s bizarre “notional” loss theory into “the biggest corruption scam ever”, it got exposed when Karnataka blew in its face. Now on governance as well, it has got exposed. This is what happens to parties that build their strategies only on criticizing others. One day, the shoe does get onto the other foot!

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