We have got used to displays of political opportunism, but when it comes to playing politics using the unfortunate deaths of people in tragedies we cannot but feel revolted. The BJP’s Asthi Kalash Yatra to commemorate those who died in the bomb blasts which took place just before its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi’s rally in Bihar which is to culminate today is clearly an attempt to stoke passions that could translate into votes in its favour. While it is commendable that the party is concerned about those who lost their lives, it was not necessary to make a public spectacle of these deaths. Mr Modi has offered compensation to the survivors and has also visited the homes of some of those who died. That should have been enough.
Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar is not off the mark in alleging that the BJP is trying to communalise this issue as there have been sporadic clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the state. The clashes in Muzaffarnagar are still fresh in the mind and it is not in keeping with propriety to open another can of worms for political gain. But the BJP is not alone in this. In earlier clashes in Haryana and Rajasthan on the issue of reservation, protestors used the bodies of those killed in police firing to press home their point. After the Kargil war the public appropriation of the dead by political parties had become a daily spectacle. The worst part in all this is that after the cameras move away, the dead are quickly forgotten and the tall promises made to their families vanish into thin air. Many politicians came forward to espouse the cause of the commandos who died in the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai, yet years down the line, many of their family members claim that little has been done to either honour their memory or compensate the families. As the country gears up for elections, it is the duty of all political parties to ensure that their actions do not encourage divisive or communal tensions.
Every unfortunate event does not have to become a political sideshow. In the recent spat between the BJP and Nitish Kumar, those killed in the bomb blasts have become fodder for each to score political points. And, of course, it has raised the issue of why Narendra Modi did not visit the victims of communal violence in his own state. All this serves to exacerbate tensions at a politically volatile time. It in no way honours the memory of the dead, improves the lives of their families or helps in the fight against terror attacks.