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Selective Concern

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BSP Chief Mayawati has hit out at Priyanka Vadra’s ‘selective’ concern for the victims of alleged police atrocities in UP, while entirely ignoring the deaths of over a hundred infants in a Kota government hospital. The implication is that leaders tend to overlook tragedies that happen in states run by their parties. This underscores the fact that so much of the compassion displayed by most politicians is merely a vote-seeking ploy rather than an actual sentiment. While any such allegation made by the BJP would have gone unheard, Mayawati belongs to the opposition domain and, therefore, the Congress emerged from its silence on Thursday with Sonia Gandhi expressing her anguish and deputing a party official to look into the matter. But, this was not before attempts were made by the State Government to gloss over the affair. The earlier uproar and official response over a similar occurrence in UP may also be recalled.

While it is only right that the opposition in any state should make an issue over possible gross negligence in the management of hospitals, or high-handedness in dealing with an agitation, creating pressure thereby for improvement, the over-politicisation of these issues leads to a shift in perspective. Instead of fixing the problem, governments and political parties become focused on changing the perceptions. Unfortunately as a result, the actual problem remains unaddressed. If this was not the case, there would not be repeats of the same kind of events, with the common people paying a heavy price.

Consider the recent spate of fires and building collapses in Delhi, where another tragedy took place on Thursday. It is clear that the regulatory regime has not been improved to any effective extent. In their usual populist approach, governments tend to make cosmetic changes so that public opinion can be assuaged. Then things go on as usual. In fact, Delhi’s AAP Government is pretty good at such political theatre while compromising with vested interests at the ground level.

The longer the problems persist, the more entrenched they become. Reform is that much harder to implement. One only needs to see the public and political reactions to the across-the-board corrections being made by the Modi Government in India’s body politic. Traditional politicians within his party are, in fact, beginning to panic at the thought of the votes being lost. However, someone needs to take up the challenge – in the long term, the nation will be better off.