November 15, 2007

Call things

Two leaders, two reactions, I want to throw up.

First, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Asked about violence in Nandigram, he says: "[The victims] have been paid back in the same coin."

Really? When, for just one example, CPM cadres fired on two rallies in Nandigram some days ago, killing three Indians and injuring dozens, what was that particular coin they were paying back? Had those particular three dead Indians, or those particular injured dozens, or those particular rallying people, shot dead some CPM cadres in the past?


What we have here, of course, is one more in an ever-lengthening list of nauseating Indian justifications of killing: Rajiv Gandhi telling us in 1984 that when a big tree falls, the earth shakes; Madhukar Sarpotdar telling the Srikrishna Commission in 1996 that because some Muslims burned a Hindu family to death, the Shiv Sena was justified in slaughtering Muslims across Bombay; Narendra Modi telling us in 2002 that every action must have a reaction; any number of people who ask "Yeah, but who STARTED it?"; and now a glib Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee.

There is no justification for killing like we've seen in Nandigram. That's it. People who give us platitudes about coins don't know the first thing about justice.

Second, BJP man LK Advani. After a visit to Nandigram "where he met fear-struck villagers and a disconsolate boy whose mother was killed before his eyes", he said this: "I’ve never come across this kind of terror." (this report).

Really? Did Advani not visit, for example, Gujarat in 2002? Did he not meet fear-struck villagers and disconsolate children whose parents and relatives were killed before their eyes, there? (I did, when I visited, and not just one).

He did. Did he pronounce, at that time, that he had "never come across this kind of terror"?


What we have here is one more leader -- like Rajiv Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee -- who winks at terror when it is caused by his comrades, but is outraged when it is caused by others. Thus proving that he, too, doesn't know the first thing about justice.

When will we find the statesmen who, regardless of political leanings, call things as they are? When we ourselves, regardless of political leanings, find the substance to call things as they are.


harini calamur said...

it is almost as though the lives of those who oppose an ideology or a party have no value.....
and then they wonder why a third of the districts in India are under Naxal control!!

Anoop Saha said...

Budhadeb Bhattacharya's justification of violence committed by his comrades is absolutely deplorable. Not that it is any surprising. But it is important for Advani to take a strong stand for the people of Nandigram. Politics does not hinge on the presence of honest men and women, it hinges on the fact that there are dishonest men fighting against each other.

What is more shameful is the smugness of CPI(M) in this whole affair. So, when you compare the maoists to the marxists, the maoists, although underground, come across as far greater people.

Anonymous said...

It is discouraging that even while expressing concern about what happened in Nandigram, your politics came in the way. Very interesting to see that your main criticism is reserved for Advani :)

Shuvro Aikath said...

> Very interesting to see that your main
> criticism is reserved for Advani

It takes a especially biased, or diseased mind, to read this post, and decide that the "main criticism is reserved for Advani"...

but that is the kind of mind that seems to show up here. Like on my blog.

Anonymous said...

A long time back, I read the introduction by Rajeev Dhavan, to Marc Galanter's "Law and Society in Modern India" where he mentioned that in parts of India, even the State had got privatized. By this, he meant the following: According to our constitution, the State is supposed to treat all citizens equally. Now we all know that this doesn't quite happen in practice. However, when the State gives up even the pretense of being a neutral arbiter, then we have trouble. In the 15 or so years since the book appeared, it seems that more parts of India have joined the group where the State is now privatized. Even more dishearteningly, this malaise seems to extend across the political spectrum, as Dilip notes.

Now this is something that even the most ardent "privatizers" (of whom I am one, I confess) do not want or wish for. I think it was Kaushik Basu who made the interesting point that India does have a "free market" - in things which ought not to be decided by the market. For instance, driving licences seem to be allocated almost entirely by market principals. In parts of India, (UP/Bihar notably, but also in other parts), justice seems to be entirely on market principals. In other parts, our State seems to have "outsourced" justice to groups like the Naxalites. And of course, as Rajeev Dhavan noted, we now have increasingly, the ultimate privatization: that of the state itself. Perhaps, as a supporter of privatization, I had not realized that our government was being so cunning.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the follow-up post: please read "principals" as "principles" in my above post.

Anonymous said...

One striking similarity btwn our lefty and righty leaders is that they are both very unapologetic about confrontation and violence.

Maybe it has something to do with the other similarity: cadre-based organization, somewhat military style discipline, and higher indoctrination.

The mask has slipped off the lefty face here with various acts now:

- clamoring for non-discussion in Parliament (state subject)
- attacks on the governor's role
- criticism of the judiciary, warnings to not overstep the bounds!


Nikihl said...

When we ourselves, regardless of political leanings, find the substance to call things as they are.
Do you include yourself among the 'us'
Then why crib about the fact that there is no justice for riot or other similar victims?
When justice in India has been hijacked by different people each with their own agencda, is it ever possible?
Where are the Tehelka's, NDTV's and Aaj Tak's now?
Prannoy Roy at least has some family ties and hence cannot be expected to do some coverage.
Maybe Shivam Vij and Anand can do some good spin stories around this one?
You are wrong about Advani.
Of course you will spin this story so that the BJP will still come out looking like the devil

Dilip D'Souza said...

Do you include yourself among the 'us'
Then why crib about the fact that there is no justice for riot or other similar victims?

Are these serious questions?

First, when I use "we", that word ordinarily means myself too.

Second, If I include myself, I should not "crib about the fact that there is no justice for riot or other similar victims"? I'm unable to see the connection.

When justice in India has been hijacked is when it has to be fought for and demanded. I know of no other way.

"Where are the Tehelka's [etc]"? I have no intention of answering for them, but every segment of the press is filled with Nandigram news every day, which is as it should be. Yet we have someone asking "Where are the Tehelkas?"

And finally, thank you for the pointer to the Tribune article. I had read it before. To my mind, calling something a "blot" and an "aberration" and "unfortunate" is significantly different from saying "I've never come across this kind of terror." It amazes me that anyone can see them as equivalent. Spin or not.

Rajesh said...

> Where are the Tehelka's, NDTV's Aaj Tak's now?

Tehelka did a cover story on Nandigram in their latest issue. You can read it at and at
and at

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add one more leader and one more comment. CM of Maharastra I think, saying-Suicide is illegal. But have we arrested any farmers in Maharashtra? We haven't. (Quote is mine: To read: how wonderful are we) Yuck.