The Statesman 06 Jun 2014
The sin may be rooted in a caste-ridden feudal society that relegates its women to chattels, fertilised by a police force that reflects such regressive social norms, but what makes the repeated sexual violence in Uttar Pradesh a national disgrace is the lowly attitude of the state’s ruling political outfit. It virtually condones rape ~ by not condemning it unequivocally. If the frequency and daring of the criminals attracts international disgrace, the Samajwadi Party leadership’s defending its mis-governance is horrendous, conscience-convulsing.
It could well be argued that the comment from the prominent “family” dignifies the crime, which is anything but “stray”: so clearly a “traditional” weapon of domination, oppression, vengeance. It is a sick mindset that caused the party patriarch Mulayam Singh to declare that “boys will be boys” when opposing calls for making the offence punishable with death: so sexual assault was no more than kids playing gulli-danda for the consistent blocker of the Women’s Reservation Bill. Son and current chief minister Akhilesh was more modern, a Google search he audaciously asserted would confirm rapes elsewhere too: one crime negated the other. And now Ram Gopal propounds the bizarre theory that when “a relationship becomes public” it was dubbed rape. Customarily, all three blamed the media for sensationalism that had a multiplier-effect. Words are a poor medium for condemning the “philosophy” that deems action against a few officers is an adequate government response. Not for that trio any misgivings over their party’s rule being synonymous with goonda raj: this story did not begin, and certainly will not end at Badaun. Not until there is politically-propelled police reform ~ nationwide.
Will the changed political equation in New Delhi have the requisite impact? The NDA’s ministers have been forthright in condemning the situation, but that may not suffice. Since the home minister is from UP he does have a personal stake in remedying the malaise that needs more than “politics” to set things right. Meanwhile Mayawati has her own games to play. As for the Congress’ condemnation it is a moot point if the Samajwadi would have been so brazen had for the past decade or so the UPA government not been dependent on its support. Since the present government is not similarly hamstrung it must not back off from using its Constitution-derived powers to get the state government to toe the line ~ but, please, not with the covert aim of installing a BJP government in Lucknow. Actually home minister Rajnath Singh’s administrative ability is now on test. If political consensus desired, a first step could be moving a resolution in Parliament condemning the rash of rapes ~ who says “Aye” or “Nay” will prove rather revealing.
Far from functioning as an effective education minister, Partha Chatterjee was at his worst in the aftermath of the post-election mayhem on BJP workers, perpetrated by the Trinamul Congress at Sandeshkhali in North 24-Parganas. At another end of the once undivided district, Falta in South 24-Parganas witnessed a re-run last Sunday when a pregnant woman was kicked by goons, allegedly of Mamata Banerjee’s party. True to form, the minister has played the role of an ebullient party spokesman, an appointment with which he is more comfortable than he is as minister for industries, IT or education. “We are not afraid of the Centre,’’ was his decidedly curt response to the BJP vice-president, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s hint that the party might seek the Prime Minister’s intervention.
There are at least three facets to the violence that has roiled the vicinity of Basirhat sub-division over the past week. The first quite obviously is the unprovoked Trinamul offensive and the firing by suspected activists that has grievously injured no fewer than 30 BJP cadres. The other is the generally muted response of the ruling party and government, apparently more preoccupied with the post-IPL tamasha at the Eden Gardens, as was witnessed on Tuesday afternoon. A BJP team drew a blank in its efforts to meet the Chief Secretary; it turned out to be a series of “missed calls” to the state government’s chief executive.
Yet another is the new-found assertiveness of the BJP, which has sent a fairly senior-level delegation from Delhi for an on-the-spot assessment. At the core of the issue is not the number of seats the Trinamul won in the Lok Sabha election ~ 34 out of 42 ~ as Mr Chatterjee imagines. The victory does not allow the party to defy the rule of law. More the reason, therefore, for the ruling entity to act more responsibly and assess why its footsoldiers may have acted with calculated malevolence. With no reaction from the head of government, it would appear that the Trinamul leadership is fast losing control over its cadres… as did the CPI-M in its twilight phase.
The alarming slide in the post-election law and order situation can only hasten the drift towards anarchy; the pace will be quicker than any headway on a central bailout. In terms of the federal engagement, the response of Jayalalitha and Naveen Patnaik to the new dispensation has been more rational than the antagonism of Mamata Banerjee. The cadres will have to be reined in, the violence against the BJP curbed before it assumes endemic proportions, and the administration needs to be more sensitive and neutral in the face of opposition complaints. In Miss Banerjee’s reckoning, only her own party deserves space in Bengal. No, this isn’t the manner in which the party system works in a democracy.
Source. Patriot forum