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Methods of seeking political gains

Friday, September 07, 2018
By Ranajoy Sen

With the approach of elections, any issue is sought to be used upon fully by political parties. It is so even if the issue concerned requires sensitivity, if not solemnity. Such is the urge to capitalise on any issue that political parties prefer not to  let go of any opportunity to do so. The implosion of a major bridge at Kolkata has again provided a peek to the avenue-seeking political climate which apparently and sadly brings political accusations to the front. The concerned bridge is the Majerhat Bridge. It caved in just around dusk. Mercifully and thankfully, the casualties were very minimal. Even then, those affected by it in any way would think of it in rather adversarial terms.  

Following the incident, there has been a steady exchange of words between those ruling the state and the concerned opposition parties. The political leaders have all voiced concern and regret for the issue and have stated that their thoughts are with those who have been affected or been injured in any way. After saying so, the effort to secure political gains has manifested itself unhesitatingly. The ruling TMC and the opposition parties such as the Congress, the BJP and the CPI(M) have all, in various ways, voiced their opinions, which seem to indicate that the ruling party be held responsible for it, and that there might be lacunas in its governance.  

‘Blame game’ should be desisted
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, was away on an official tour of the mountainous district of Darjeeling in northern Bengal. Even then, however, she left no stones unturned to ensure that relief work were not hampered in the least at the site of the bridge accident. To their credit, the paramilitary forces and armed forces also pitched in with their efforts without any delay. The possibility of any blameworthiness would be visible only after the passage of some days. By that time, some sort of probe or investigation would have completed its course. Till then, it could be expected that the accusations and counter accusations would continue. The TMC leaders have shown a measure of maturity. They have stated that at present, the need of the hour is to prioritise rescue and relief over embarking upon a “blame game” against each the other.

However, the Congress and the CPI(M) has also voiced their thoughts on similar lines as the TMC. But, the BJP has vented its spleen against the TMC administration of the state by stating that it raises questions of how responsible the government is, and also whether it deserves to continue ruling. It is known to one and sundry that these statements would not dent the political standing of the TMC in the state by any measure. Moreover, till the time of writing, nobody with any connection to the TMC has been found to be involved with the maintenance or repair of the Majerhat Bridge in any way. Furthermore, despite the glaring fault inherent in the manner in which Kolkata’s Vivekananda Road flyover collapsed just on the eve of the state assembly elections in 2016, the outcome attested that the TMC continues to enjoy the highest adherence among the electorate.

This brings to the fore another question: with the steady approach of the parliamentary election, and the questions arising about the spoken of positive aspects of demonetisation and GST, the steady decline of the rupee in the international market and the PNB fraud, the ruling BJP at the centre is bound to get anxious in its efforts to succeed at the electoral test of the 2019 general election, once again.

For the BJP’s benefit, the speeches of Congress President Rahul Gandhi in his current tours abroad have not evoked a very enthusiastic response. Furthermore, some, back home, have raised a measure of skepticism as regarding some of his opinions on extremism and societal exclusion. Even then, the BJP would have to be cautious, because the stakes are rather high.

Three crucial state elections ahead
There are three approaching crucial state elections on the Indian political horizon. They are Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. These state assembly elections before the general elections of 2019 could be akin to a thriller before the screening of a full film. Therefore, the response at the thriller might be of some importance if not more for those for whom the full film is of crucial importance. The analogy is regarding the affect of the outcome of the state assembly elections upon the general election. Although, past precedent has shown that that might not always be so. In 2003, the BJP won a spectacular victory in all three concerned states. However, their confidence of winning the general election in 2004 turned out to be an illusion as they lost to a Congress-led coalition.

If the outcome for BJP is not as expected in the three state assembly elections then it would provide a boost to the opposition parties and their talks of a unity against the BJP. If otherwise, the BJP would be content as it prepares for the 2019 parliamentary election.

As the days proceed, the phenomenon of trying to secure political gains from any incident might get more notable. However, as the electorate matures politically with time, such attempts might witness a reducing appeal, apart from a fleeting effect. What would ultimately matter, broadly speaking, are good governance, security, and economic betterment.

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