Monday, July 28, 2008

Our leaders must act, our people must make them do so

Our cities continue to be bombed and all we get is banal responses to the incidences from our leaders. The attacks were (and they continue) highly disturbing and could affect the moral of the people. The unmitigated disaster of a Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil, was not even innovative with his remarks. The same words spoken as after every such incident, tossed and rearranged so they do not sound repetitive. The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has been equally disappointing. But we have now come to expect this after having known them for these past four years. What else was new in their reactions to the recent bomb blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad?

The dust had not yet settled from the blasts and we had the two main political parties sparring already, each trying to gain as much political mileage as it possibly could. First up, it was the UPA, headed by Congress that tried to exonerate itself by claiming it had warned the Karnataka government of a possible terror attack. Next we had the BJP claiming that the Congress is deliberately trying to go slow on the terrorists by not bringing back POTA. The BJP has a good point here since a tough anti-terror law would empower security agencies to act strongly and bring results to their investigations. However the latest allegation by Ms. Sushma Swaraj is far fetched even by conspiracy theory standards. The Congress will use it to discredit the BJP. This task will be easier since the Congress has immense clout in the mainstream media. The verbal war has the potential to divert attention from what is necessary. Some Congress leaders demand Mr. Modi's ouster, by the same logic, Mr. Shivraj Patil should be the first to go since terrorism has flourished during his tenure.

The Congress’ response has been typical, careful not to disturb its votes. The dogged refusal to act tough on terror even after bombings in two cities on two successive days in indicative of where their interests lie, national security is clearly not one of them. Add to that its handling of the Bangaldeshi refugees, border disputes with our neighbors, the Naxal and Maoist violence and nothing more would be needed to prove this. Congress leaders, especially the Prime Minister no less, claim that POTA never stopped terror attacks from taking place. However, that does not stop them from claiming that the present penal codes are enough in tackling terror. Clearly the penal codes are inadequate too. Another idea suggested by Dr. Singh is forming a federal agency to handle terrorism. Well, that too would not stop attacks unless it is armed to the teeth with tough anti-terror laws with less political interference into its functioning.

However, it is not all depressing. The police and emergency service response in Bangalore was very quick and effective in keeping the situation under control. There definitely is a marked difference in the way the state machinery worked during the Deve Gowda days and now. Similarly, the services in Gujarat following the tragic events have been praiseworthy. Mr. Narendra Modi was quick to respond to the situation and did not allow the situation to grow into anything unfortunate. The response of the leaders of the two states has also been praiseworthy. Both seem determined to deal with the situation without diverting their attentions to anything else. That is a good sign.

The center, especially the UPA rather the Congress, does not have the political will to deal with internal security matter strongly. This is even more pronounced since their vote base seems to have eroded greatly due to high inflation and the recent events involving the trust vote in the parliament. It does not want to disturb its traditional vote base lest it gets completely wiped out. It is the people who must refuse such banal responses from the Home Minister and our Prime Minister and demand action from them. It is time words replaced actions.
Update: My earlier thoughts about Ms. Sushma Swaraj's allegations were incorrect. I now believe she may not be entirely incorrect. Knowing Congress' dubious history and its ability to be involved into many a controversy, it is perfectly capable for anything. Besides, Ms. Swaraj did not name the Congress explicitly, so why are the Congressmen cursing her? Was it not a party to such grave allegations as the BJP being behind the attack on our parliament, Godhara etc? Any who can forget the unfounded allegations such as "Merchant of death" which our "secular" media furthered willing knowing fully well that it was a flase and grave charge aimed at vilification.

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