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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 48, November 16, 2013

Beyond Trivialities: One Right Step

Tuesday 19 November 2013, by SC

EDITORIAL

As the Sachin fever grips the whole country (not just Mumbai) in the ongoing second India-West Indies Test, the last—that is, the 200th—one being played by the master-blaster, the national political scene remains as murky as ever with rival political parties (including the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party in the Capital city) trading charges against each other using the choicest of invectives occasionally bordering on the vulgar.

These are, of course, trivialities but they reflect the prevailing surcharged pre-poll atmosphere and offer an idea of the intensity of the election campaign being conducted by the contending parties with the objective of winning the support of the voters. The Election Commission has been forced to step in on some occasions and in one specific case, that is, of Rahul Gandhi’s speech accusing the BJP of instigating one community against another, has expressed displeasure at the “tone, tenor and content” of the Congress Vice-President’s pronouncement while cautioning him to be more circumspect in his public utterances in future. Now the Commission has issued a notice to the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant, Narendra Modi, over his “khooni panja” and “zaalim haath” remarks while referring to the Congress’ election symbol.

Meanwhile the CBI has lately borne the brunt of the PM and Finance Minister’s sharp criticisms. The CBI chief initially sought to explain the Agency’s position but subsequently had to strike a different note.

On his part the Director of the organisation, Ranjit Sinha, put his foot in the mouth while defending the legislation of betting in sports. “If you can’t enforce it (action against betting), it is like you can’t prevent rape, enjoy it. It is better to legalise it (betting) and earn some money rather than throwing up your hands.” This led to a huge furore with women politicians from all sides taking the lead in decrying Sinha’s insensitive comments. Eventually a CBI spokesperson was compelled to issue a clarification that Sinha did not mean what was being attributed to him.

When politicians and government functionaries ignore the citizens’ interests the civil society relies on the judiciary to defend the public cause. This was again visible yesterday when, moved by the plight of the flat owners of Mumbai’s Campa Cola Housing Society, the Supreme Court took suo moto action to suspend the demolition of 102 unauthorised flats till May 31, 2014. However, the judiciary’s own image has been somewhat dented as a result of certain serious allegations which are currently under investigation by the Apex Court.

In the midst of such happenings there is one right step the Union Government has taken: not to allow the PM to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo as a token of India’s protest against the Sri Lankan Government’s policy towards the Tamil minority there—Colombo has been charged with genocide of Tamils, a charge buttressed by irrefutable evidence. This step is in full consonance with the principles laid down by our first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, whose 124th birth anniversary we are observing today.

November 14 S.C.

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