This post has been written by a friend of mine...who wanted to share some thoughts and I am just representing his views through my blog.
On 5th of July 2010, the world’s largest democracy, India, once again witnessed the mockery of the principle of democracy. The (so called) secular and non-secular rival parties, which keep an arms distance from each other and always uphold and endorse their (so called) ideological differences, came together as united opposition and protested against the government’s anti-social policy of deregulating the prices of petrol and diesel. The bandh enforced by leveraging the muscle power of state parties like TDP, SP, Shiv Sena, MNS, in coalition with the national parties like BJP and CPM throughout the country, paralyzed the life of the common man who was still coming to terms with the price rise.
In the disguise of fighting for the common man, they snatched the bread from thousands of workers and small business owners who survive on daily earnings. People who support themselves on daily wages like laborers, mechanics, rickshaw pullers, auto and taxi drivers were forced to stay off roads. Small business owners comprising of thousands of shopkeepers, workshop owners and daily service providers were barred from operating. Is not the right to earn livelihood guaranteed by the Constitution of India? The so called united opposition conveniently overlooks these rights for its own political benefit.
The entire public transport network of the country was paralyzed and brought to a standstill by the violent party workers of the protesting parties. Trains on a large number of major routes were stopped, hundreds of flights were cancelled across the country and blocked highways caused major jams across metropolitan cities. All the while no party was concerned about the horrendous or diabolical experience the common man would have to go through. No party realized that these services are crucial and might be needed for people facing medical emergency or financial and business commitments which might cause them huge liabilities. Why should the common man bear the brunt of moralistic insensitivities of these dramatics of irresponsible political parties?
Protesting against the issue of price rise, the uncivilized party workers caused huge damage to the public property. Hundreds of buses were burnt and stoned in Mumbai alone by BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS workers. These losses would be recovered from the limited government resources which are dependent on that taxpayer’s money who is already buried under the inflationary pressure and high prices. Why don’t these political parties burn their own assets rather than public property to accentuate their agitation? Is there any privileged right under the Constitution enjoyed by these political parties which gives them the power to destroy public property and still get away unchecked.
The irony in all these dramatized national bandhs which goes largely unnoticed is the privilege enjoyed by the media and its people. While all the critical services of the country needed by common man were shut down, media remained unaffected as its service was required by the participating political parties to showcase their strength and by opportunist leaders to earn brownie points. While ordinary citizens and their vehicles were attacked and bundled off the road, media people and their vehicles remained untouched. The media does the job of providing these political goons their fifteen minutes of fame which they leverage to fortify their political ambitions. Why doesn’t the media restrain from providing them national footage and making heroes out of them and instead of weakening it by making it a no show? The political leaders who otherwise are above the law propose self arrest under the flash of camera lights (with possibly an anticipatory bail in pocket) to gain premium political mileage from the media. They get over with their few minutes of drama and go back to their plush homes and air conditioned offices while people on the streets struggle to make their ends meet.
The government on the other hand is efficient when it has to disburse the agitating students over reservation in Delhi or Hero Honda workers agitating against police atrocities in Gurgaon and makes no delay in resorting to lathi charge, water cannons and tear gas shells on barehanded agitators. However it looks helpless in front of these political goons who pelt stones and burn state property and cause damage. Why didn’t it treat these political parties the same as it did in previous cases of agitation against the law of the land? Do the rights of agitation and protest vest only with political parties and not with the common man. Why aren’t they treated at par with others for the same crime?
When these agitating political parties are stopped or suppressed by the government for disrupting lives of common people they make a hue and cry about the democratic rights of freedom of speech and expression. But why don’t they remember that the common man has these rights too and they have no right to disrupt the lives of thousands of people for their own selfish motives. Why do they define the terms of democracy at their own will when the Constitution of India gives the same rights to all citizens of this country equally? Whether it’s the ruling coalition with its price rise and inflationary policies or the opportunist united opposition with its vandalistic countrywide bandh, both have meted out injustice to the common man.