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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 14 New Delhi March 23, 2019

Poll Campaign, Parrikar, Christchurch Carnage

Saturday 23 March 2019, by SC

With the campaign for the 17th Lok Sabha polls in full swing, the parties in the electoral fray, primarily the BJP and Congress, are trading charges against each other with gusto.

In the midst of this campaign former Defence Minister and present Goa CM Manohar Parrikar breathed his last on March 16 having lost his year- long battle with pancreatic cancer. He played a major role in building the BJP in the State having been nurtured by the RSS since his youth. And as The Times of India noted, “It is a tribute to Parrikar’s acceptability that parties like the MGP and GFP which campaigned on an anti-BJP platform in the 2017 elections were willing to ally with the BJP after the polls provided Parrikar would become the Chief Minister.” While this brings out the personality of Parrikar, it also underlines the importance of the RSS’ activities and organisational capabilities across the country that must be a cause for concern and worry for all secular democrats; unfortunately the latter are either indifferent to such a development or adopt a ‘can’t-care-less’ attitude. (It must be stressed in this context that the BJP’s recent landslide win in the Tripura Assembly polls subjecting the CPM, then ruling the State, to a humiliating defeat was also the consequence of the RSS’ tireless but silent work at the grassroots.)

During the campaign another sad news reached us from distant New Zealand. It is learnt that a 28-year-old White nationalist indulged in mass shooting at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers at Christchurch on March 15, killing 49 persons and wounding 48. This attack was broadcast in a horrifying, live video by the immigrant-hating White supremacist wielding two assault rifles and a shotgun. What is, however, most encouraging is the approach and stand of the New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, who, in a message after the carnage, declared: “We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity we share common values.” For this act, she pointed out: “We were chosen.... because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion. A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.” She unequivocally stood by the immigrants, insisting: “They have chosen to make this their home. They are us. The person who perpetrated this is not us.”

Even if such a ghastly tragedy as happened in Christchurch has not taken place here, a large number of innocent people have lost their lives due to violent assaults by communal elements nurtured by those currently in power. Yet has our chowkidar or any of his colleagues ever said anything remotely close to what the New Zealand PM asserted after the Christchurch carnage? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’.

This is precisely why the present dispensation has no moral authority to remain in power. This dispensation must, therefore, be convincingly defeated at the hustings this year.

This needs to be highlighted in the midst of the poll campaign by impartial observers who have no axe, political or otherwise, to grind.

March 20 S.C.

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