It was a horrendous tragedy in Lakhimpur Kheri which first grabbed primetime attention. But the fact that the cameras have stayed on Priyanka for so long eventually helps the channels and Narendra Modi.
The government of Akhilesh Yadav in UP has asked the battered Muslims of Muzaffarnagar to sign an affidavit: “Myself and members of my family who have left our village and our homes due to violent incidents in our village, will not now return to our original village and home under any circumstance.”
In this affidavit, the SP government is demanding the Muslim refugees of Muzaffarnagar to forego their right to return, rather like the Palestinians. Many refugees worldwide do not return for a variety of reasons. But here the state is complicit in perpetuating the exile.
After motoring through some of the Jat dominated villages around Muzaffarnagar from where Muslims have been driven out (or which they have left in fear), I can say with certainty: something very sinister is happening barely two hour’s drive from New Delhi and just a little more from Lucknow.
Has the Muslim-boy, Hindu-girl element been inserted into the narrative of August 27 in which a Muslim and two Hindu boys were killed? Various stories are available: that two motorcycles collided, leading to a scuffle and that the girl angle is an afterthought. The second is that a Muslim and some Hindu boys claimed the same girl’s favours, and thirdly, a girl complained to her family that Muslim boys tease her when she passes their village on her way from school. Can there not be an official, police version?
Ever since, Nagpal took charge as SDM, she has been sending out special squads, to stop sand dredging and loading onto trucks. She has arrested 15 people and imposed fines of several crores on those caught. Hundred of trolley and dumpers have been confiscated. The sand mafia was obviously rattled.
In fact the entire construction industry was in a state of shock. And this construction industry is one of the biggest in the country – Sports City, Greater NOIDA Expressway, 82 colleges, four universities and apartment blocs upon apartment blocs. This requires sand. But license for mining along twenty miles of the river is granted only to one person. This dummy “miner” is the cover for hundreds of crores worth of sand.
The more the communal picture changes since the demolition of the Babri Masjid 20 years ago this week, the more it remains the same.
I have, by way of a diversion, looking at the deteriorating communal situation nearer home, in UP. Let me begin with Faizabad, the precursor of Lucknow’s great culture.
Moreover, covering up statues of Mayawati are one thing, but the elephant? Is the EC really being serious? In similar vein, should we ensure that cycles, images of cycles, lotuses and their images at flower shops also be banned until the polls are done with?
The Congress Party, it seems, has not learnt the lessons of history. By giving a long rope to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray and his goons the party hoped to marginalise the Shiv Sena. The strategy worked well as the results of the recently concluded state assembly polls showed. But the grand old party has failed to realise that it has created a Frankenstein's monster.
The MNS leader and his violent cadres have repeatedly taken law and order in their hands in the last two years. But the Congress-NCP combine did not take any strong action against him, letting him raise the issues Shiv Sena raked up in the past and hence cutting into its votebank.
The world, including India, maybe facing a severe economic crisis but it seems that the Indian political parties are immune to the global economic slowdown. According to a recently released survey of Centre for Media Studies, around Rs 10,000 crores (USD 2 billion) will be spent on Lok Sabha Polls 2009. This does not include the cost of conducting assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
What is surprising here is that the amount to be spent (USD 2 billion) is more than what US President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates spent on their campaigns.