By Adarsh Sharma
A total of 11,90,867 Covid cases, 13,773 electorates who would never ever be able to vote and breath again, 19,006 new Covid cases in a day and 4 arrested MLAs read the latest figures from West Bengal. With Corona invading urban and rural territories alike and the only rural index, viz., the death toll, superseding the urban graph, the timing and intent behind the judicial action against the ruling party MLAs were bound to raise questions and unrest within the party cadres.
Post the West-Bengal elections apotheosis and the verdict thereafter, a cohesive effort to curtail the spread of this deadly virus is expected out of those in power. While the overwhelming “majority” doesn’t give anyone absolute immunity against the rule of the law but it surely augments the responsibilities of the chosen ones at both centre and state levels. From ensuring availability of vaccines to the vaccination drive itself, from setting up more and more make-shift arrangements in rural areas to strengthening the existing ones in urban parts, all efforts must synchronise towards trimming the pandemic numbers. The very fact that our janta is too insensitive of all the precautionary caller tunes and statuary warnings further supplement the cause of concern and make it onerous.
The Narada sting operation carried out in 2014 and later made public in 2016, ahead of assembly elections, showed nearly a dozen of top TMC leaders and police officer accepting wads of money for extending favours to a fictitious company, Impex Consultancy. Top TMC leaders including Mukund Roy, Shubhendu Adhikari (both are now with BJP and Mr Adhikari is the leader of opposition in assembly), Firhad Hakim, Saugata Roy, Sovan Chatterjee and Madan Mitra were filmed accepting money from a journalist, masquerading as a businessman, allegedly in the reciprocity of some political favours.
The alleged selective arrests of Mr Hakim, Mr Roy, Mr Chatterjee and Mr Mitra which resulted in a political furore has started to snowball with other regional parties, in opposition to BJP, condemning the very nature and procedure of arrests. Mr Hakim, who also holds the housing portfolio is said to have announced a host of measures to combat the covid cases lately. From setting up safe isolation homes to oxygen parlours, his efforts on the ground were being appreciated by the people within the state. His arrest could shock and dent the preventive and corrective measures initiated by him since he is the man in charge of the civic body.
“Chunaav ke baad ye sab band hona chahiye tha saara dhyan ab corona par hona chahiye kisi ka arrest hone se corona to arrest nahi hoga na (the political drama should have ceased post elections, these arrests are insignificant till we arrest corona itself)” opines Vikas Sharma, a restaurateur.
“Politics to chalta rahega lekin abhi chunaav ka ladai khatam hua abhi sirf corona se ladaai hona chahiye (the election war is over let us all battle out corona now)” says Soumik Mallick, who somehow managed to get an ICU bed for his brother-in-law when his condition deteriorated.
Such sentiments are not limited to general masses only but instead are being shared by the spokespersons of almost all the leading opposition parties across the nation as well. With Mamata Banerjee emerging as “The Mascot” of BJP defiance, the support from all other non-BJP compliant parties seems to be getting stronger for her. While there is no denying the fact that juridical actions need to be executed without delays and intensive interrogation is indispensable in matters involving political leaders but an ill-timed shot often attracts brickbats for its lack of efficacy.
“If everything is so systematic and transparent then why were Mr Adhikari and Mr Roy left out, why were they not arrested as well. The law must be the same for everyone. Your political affinity can’t and shouldn’t decide your fate” vents out Abhismita Sen, a marketing consultant by profession.
“Supreme court to bolta hai jail mai qaidi kam karo covid se bachao lekin centre bolta hai aur bharo (While supreme court says to declutter the jails and release prisoners the centre thinks otherwise and is filling up more and more)” comments Leena Sharma, a housewife who managed to defeat corona recently.
The anguish expressed through statements like these has more to do with inapt proceedings and inopportune timing of a politically sensitive issue like this than the actual merits of the case itself. The arrests yet again led to the events of mass gatherings (read protests) with TMC supporters gheraoing the CBI office and other administrative offices in support of their leader(s). Backed by outstanding poll results, any such provocation was expected to raise the already high sentiments of TMC supporters, an event which the state could ill-afford given the Covid scenario. Lives are at stake and the very fundamental right to live is facing the deadliest pandemic of our times, any deviation in handling this medical emergency could further worsen the already cramped system. The state already reeling under the consequences of mega election rallies and post-poll violence needs to ramp up its healthcare system and fight corona vigorously above anything else. The election results were expected to put an end to this political grappling and resumption of healthy administration was foreseen but the current events suggest otherwise.
If ever the polarization was required it indeed is now in terms of polarising the synergies at state and centre levels. The system needs to work in cohesion and prioritise the handling of subjects/issues of utmost importance and of grave concerns. To safeguard the fundamental right to live of its people should be the topmost and only priority for any government as of now.
Let every other matter which could be allowed leniency be Arrested in Peace!
(The author is an advertising and marketing professional with over 15+ years of experience in offering customised media solutions to brands and political parties across India. Views expressed are personal)