iconimg Saturday, August 01, 2015

Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 09, 2013
The Samajwadi Party (SP) blames the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party blames the SP, but none of this seems aimed at stopping the horrific communal violence in Uttar Pradesh.



Coming as these incidents do amidst a national scenario of gloom with the economy sliding down the drain, it is little wonder that foreign investors or for that matter domestic investors want to give India a wide berth.

There have been numerous discussions on how and why the clashes which have so far claimed 28 lives, have taken place. Some say that this is the result of the BJP’s attempt to resurrect a destructive Hindutva to polarise the vote.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal made attempts to raise the Hindutva banner earlier with a yatra to demand the building of the Ram mandir. But that came a cropper. So it is puzzling how the flames of communal strife were stoked in places like Muzaffarnagar with such ease.

Communal tensions have the tendency to spread, but nothing explains why the state administration did not act instantly to quell the violence at the first hint of unrest.

The charge that the state government is incapable of handling the situation is completely without basis. The Akhilesh Yadav government has every resource and support in the assembly to have acted instantly.

Instead, we have seen the unedifying spectacle of the SP playing politics and seeking to put the BJP in the dock. Even assuming that there was dirty work at the crossroads and the BJP was instrumental in lighting the fires, as the party in government, the SP had the duty to act and restore law and order.

This is of a piece with the SP’s track record in most other fields.

The state is lagging behind in development indicators, it is attracting little investment, it has not itself invested in infrastructure and its governance record is dismal.

Given the manner in which it wears its secular credentials on its sleeve, it is passing strange that the SP was not more alert in averting this disaster. Akhilesh’s appeals for calm have come far too late. Now that the communal juggernaut is rolling only harsh policing measures will stop it.

The UP chief minister has made the right decision in allowing district administration officials a free hand. But he should have said this right at the outset. Many officers hesitate to act for fear of being made scapegoats later.

The BJP, which is hoping to resolve its internal contradictions and kick off its journey to the seat of power in Delhi, should mince no words in reining in elements professing to act in its name.

The state government must now stop homilies about restraint and act decisively to halt the violence. It is not just UP’s reputation which is at stake at this juncture, it is all of India’s.