Tuesday, October 30, 2012

COVER STORY: All Party Fiasco: Too Many Cooks...

All Party Fiasco: Too Many Cooks...

By Staff Reporter

Opposition Parties are pillars of a democracy. If not for them, the ruling party would have all its own way. We would be living in a dictatorship or a monarchy. Our Islands too have opposition parties of all hues and colour.  Though, these Islands boast of a lone member of parliament amongst the opposition's ranks, it's seldom that his voice is taken seriously -majority of which is his very own undoing. The Congress and its allies rule the Centre but the equation is different as few of its' central allies like the DMK here are with the opposition. This has come about because of local equations largely due to the local bodies of self governance.
Equations change for all these power hungry parties as and when its suits them. PBMC or the Zilla Parishads are governed by different dynamics and hence no opposition is offered there for its composition. You take care of my needs and I'll take care of yours is the magic mantra. Damned be the electorates whom they are to face after five long years. If these parties can fill up its coffers, the Janta can be managed next elections with ease is a popular rule.
Recently, lot of hope was kindled with the announcement that the major opposition parties have formed a common platform for the Islands economic development. Parties like the BJP, TMC, DMK, AIADMK, TDP and the CPI (M) came together to chalk out an agenda about taking on the local Admn and the Govt. of India; pressing for a demand of self governance in the form of a Legislative Assembly. The cause looked noble, as in a democracy people should be masters of their own destiny which unfortunately here is in the hands of a few bureaucrats considered insensitive or lacking any foresight led by the longest serving Administrator- an ex- Army man. 
Our principle opposition parties put on a grandiose plan of taking on a trip to national capital New Delhi where the seat of ultimate power lies in the country. Armed with two memorandums and the experience of the veteran stalwart ex- MP Manoranjan Bhakta as their leading light, with over two decades of experience in representing this Island territory proceeded to meet President of our country and the council of ministers. Some of these party chiefs were meeting local traders and citizens with a request to fund their arduous journey for a noble cause. People obliged with great hope that something good would come out of it and these trips don't come cheap. Thirty more red light vehicles for our future ministers and legislators were on the anvil or so we believed.
A joint press conference was organized and copies of the memorandums handed over to the local media followed by high tea. The memorandums made a good read lacking any great focus on pressing home people's perspective on state of affairs. President (who knows more about these Islands by virtue of being in Govt. for decades than an average politician) was given a lesson on geography of the Islands, revisiting the Tsunami of 2004 and other demographic details followed by a plethora of issues plaguing the Islanders, chief being - enough of the Lt. General's (Retd.) governance, need for a Legislative Assembly and release of twenty four reputed quarry operators denied bail unjustly pre-trial on an illegal explosives haul case.
Other issues were inserted in between citing stagnation of development due to pot holes and slush on the roads for the last decade, strangulation of democratic institutions like the PRI's, ignoring of the lone Member of Parliament by the Admn and drafting of draconian notifications like the Buffer Zone. It was startling to note that one of the architects or onlooker of this premature exit of the Pradesh Parishad is the leading light of this association of opposition parties now and was an MP in the majority of the last decade when development didn't take place with his government at the centre then. Bhakta could have shed some light on it as well, being a senior statesman and an ex-parliamentarian not known for expressing his views vociferously in the Parliament.
As the first memorandum with the subject on Legislative Assembly and other issues has signatures of all the opposition political parties representatives, the second memorandum on the subject- non-availability of quarry products do not have the CPI(M) representative’s signature. Does this imply that the unity among these parties still needs some ironing out?  When the issue of shortage of quarry products was incorporated in the first memorandum, what was the need or the urgency of driving home this point along with bail of twenty four respectable businessmen on the illegal explosive haul case?
The matter is sub-judice and sooner or later justice will prevail. The accused respectable businessmen have the resources and the connections to avail the best of legal services available in the country and if they are innocent, nothing is preventing them from proving themselves innocent or being granted bail. They are all suffering from several ailments as are we- the common Islanders due to lack of proper medical facilities. This does not qualify us to get involved in illegal activities and face prosecution from the comfort of our living rooms.   There was a time not long ago when the same opposition and even the present MP and the BJP would levy charges on these very respectable businessmen of being unjustly granted quarry licenses overlooking deserving educated unemployed youths and others and indiscriminately exploiting the fragile Island's ecology.
Trying to create pressure on the law enforcing agencies like the police does not go well with the common masses who want to see light at the end of the tunnel. Strictures or decisions could be harsh but the accused have avenues to plead their case. Bringing it before the President of the country when the Islanders are reeling under several other genuine day to day basic issues has dealt a severe blow to the credibility of this motley group of politicians. Majority of these reputed businessmen are high ranking Congress politicians having rubbed shoulders with the high and the mighty during their better days and hence these avenues would not have gone unexplored is anyone's guess.
There were great expectations from the opposition dharna at Tiranga Park on the 16 Oct but it turned out to be more of a political jamboree of contradictions. Everyone was singing his or her own tune and some of the speeches were nonsensical lacking any vision or ideas.
The amount spent on publicity, biryani, lavish arrangements and the hype it created could have been better utilized for driving home a point- loud and clear to the admn that the masses have had enough of this gross mismanagement and onemanship. What it achieved sadly is disconnect with the needs of people of these islands and more of a platform for furthering sectarian agenda. The Admn instead of getting concerned about growing discontent among the Islanders about its ways is having a field day by the way the opposition has put up its views.
Changes are not to be seen in the near future if issues are taken up the way it is now by the opposition parties. They have flunked a great opportunity and let's see if something more concrete comes up in days ahead. These parties have to first set up their own houses in order before taking on an unresponsive Admn.
Mass mobilization is tough and when such opportunities beckon us, it should send shivers up the spines of the wrongdoers. Every wing of the Administration is head deep into corruption; nepotism and gross mismanagement but all of them go scot free. The end result is compromise on the quality of basic services, irreversible degradation of the environment and snatching of opportunities of our youth and common man. The opposition cannot be mute spectators and try to score personal points blaming it on development or the lack of it. It should take another shot next time better prepared and with a common man oriented agenda involving all the stakeholders for their views and suggestions.   

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