The Bombay outrage looks like the 9/11 counterpart as far as India is concerned. This unprecedented attack looks like almost a war against India. The great tragedy has shaken India and raised the concerns of the citizens to a new high of anxiety and a fear psychosis.
The mood of the nation is one of sullen helplessness! This is too bad and India must act.
With a reported 174 terror groups operating across India, with the maximum in the North East, the maximum in Manipur, Assam and J&K, it is no more a business as usual for the Indian government not to do something refreshing to assure the Indian public.
Just a month back the terrorist attack in Assam is only too serious to look at it as one more event in the series!
It is a brutal reminder that the Indian state has failed to live up to its promise of one that is capable of protecting the citizens. Protect them first from the enveloping all-round fear. Then, let us look at it as a phenomenon that needs action on many front.
Can we say that the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi’s visit to the state is anything different from what they have been doing in similar circumstances? We are afraid that it is in no way a difference from the past. What does this convey?
It conveys that the Indian state is not willing or capable of accepting responsibility for the the citizens’ lives and security.
There is now a creeping fear and suspicion even that under the cover of collective responsibility, the alliance government is evading responsibility to act decisively against the emerging and even growing number of terrorist attacks and also the growing number of terrorist outfits, it is rumoured, as running over one hundred and more.
The arrest of the MNS leader Raj Thakeray is only one silver lining. Now, it comes to the terror attacks and there seems to be no reassuring decisive action. The one underlying thread is the role and responsibility of the two leaders: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party President Sonia Gandhi. The whole country knows that the PM is only a dejure authority and it is the party President who is the defacto power wielder. So, it becomes all the more to point out openly it is the party President to show the way. The real tension in the polity now is the critical decision making and there is no one in the picture to see who does what or who doesn’t what needs to be done.
As a signal for decisive action, the Prime Minister must drop his Home Minister from the job of protecting the citizens from such murderous attacks.
It is rather sickening to see, attacks after attacks, the Home Minister, doesn’t even seem to be opening his mouth and saying some words of reassurances. This is a great pity, to say the least.
At least for the sake of restoring public confidence in the polity, there needs some moral responsibility and demonstrated the same in a symbolic manner at least.
The Home Minister must act now and he must as a first step tender his resignation from the government. That would at least send out the message that the government is in a mood for decisive action.
The Assam blast comes at a time when the mood in the country is already sullen and loaded with new developments: the Maharashtra unrest. The killing of innocent citizens from outside the state and also the revelation of the involvement of the Hindu elements in the Malegaon blasts So the current tendency is to indulge in mutual slanging match. The UPA, in particular, the Congress blaming the BJP and the rest of the parties trying to fish in troubled waters.
In Assam alone in the past one decade, some 10,000 people were killed in the violence there. Violent protests by the public that broke out in the wake of this terrible tragedy shows how the public is weary over the helplessness of the government there.
The PM says the government is not soft on terror. But he seems to be a helpless spectator. He seems to be only too loudly proclaiming that he doesnt know the way, he doesnt have the powers invoked in the high office of the Prime Minister.
Or, it looks futile to blame the head of the government, given the circumstances in which the PM is placed. So it becomes rather useless to blame the Prime Minister or the government machinery.
Also, the Home Minister is seen as a favourite of the Party President. So, it is to Mrs. Gandhi, everyone seems to be looking for guidance and action.
Now, there is news that is rather disturbing that the Congress party is also trying to play politics in Maharashtra and elsewhere. The party, given its present predicament, is almost isolated. Its relationship with the SP seems to have soured. So, in Maharashtra it is likely to play to the panderings of the local Congressmen who have to contend with the more ambitious politician, namely, Sharad Pawar who is gunning for the PM’s job after the elections.
So, on the one hand, the Congress has to restrain the NCP and on the other for this to become effective, the Congress has to weaken the Shivsena which would secretly would only work for the advantage of the NCP. So, going slow or soft on Raj thakeray would only help the Congress to play a more role in the state politics.
The Congress is also faced with the BJP giving it a tough fight wherever it is faced with a direct confrontation. So, the new phenomenon of the Hindutava terrorism comes in handy for the party. The former Prime Minister, Atul Behari Vajpayee has cautioned against the deeper conspiracy to divide the country, as the Assam blasts point to a more complicated alliance between the state-level ULFA elements and also the Muslim terrorist outfits whose home base seems to be Bangladesh.
These are very serious developments. The Com- munists are no help here and as we have seen that the other more ultra-Left wing elements like the Maoists and the Naxalistes are also posing challenges to the authority of the state. Indeed, the state of the Indian polity seems to be in a very dangerous phase as far as the outlook of the political parties are concerned.
Whoever are the more active and more concerned and the more sensitive sections among the Indian political elite, there seems to be a more cynical and even morally irresponsible elements among the ruling alliance partners, as in Tamil Nadu and in other states like Maharashtra, not to speak of other states like UP and even in W.Bengal, every political party seems to be more concerned about their own self interests and even vested interests are also aligning with these ruling elements.
How far to trust the DMK and the PMK who share power with the Congress at the Centre? How to trust the CPI(M) when it makes criticisms of what the Centre do or don’t do?
How far to trust even the more moderate elements like the Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD’s threat to get its MPs resign from Parliament over the North Indian citizens issue in Maharashtra?
There is a need for someone to articulate the collective responsibility and at the same time some decisive action.
The first step as we see it is for the government to drop the Home Minister and nominate someone else so that some new sense of relief is seen in the public mind.
The least Sonia Gandhi can do in such a situation like the present one, the present mood is one of total disenchantment with the way the government functions, is to ask for Mr.Shivraj Patil to hand over his job to someone else.
Mr.Patil, it is in your own moral domain not to embarrass the Prime Minister or the Party President and put them in such a vulnerable position.
Please on your own, go and let the country breathe freely for some time. Before we settle the other more routine issues.
A break from the present helplessness is what is needed so badly. Such a break would come through only with the sacking of the Home Minister from the Cabinet.
There doesnt seem to be any other way. The country is really in a low sullen mood. Mr.Patil owes to the country and to himself to help to break out of the present desperate situation.