Cops, officials in a bind as parties play poll games with issues | india | Hindustan Times
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Cops, officials in a bind as parties play poll games with issues

It is time that the city's hapless bureaucrats and policemen become twice as watchful and efficient, writes Soni Sangwan in Freehand.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2003 18:35 IST

Have you noticed how everything that is happening or not happening now has suddenly become the fault of either the Congress or the BJP? If the Swiss diplomat was raped, it's because the BJP-led Central Government did not do anything about the deteriorating law and order in the city.

If there is a dengue epidemic, it is because the Congress-ruled municipal corporation has not cleaned up the city. If cops have killed a young man for alerting gamblers, it is again the BJP's inability to control the Delhi Police. The list is endless.

In fact, in this context, it is time that the city's hapless bureaucrats and policemen become twice as watchful and efficient. Anything that goes wrong in the city now — either through negligence or willful inactivity — is going to take on political hues and any act of commission or omission on their part could well become an election issue.

The first casualty in this intensely political environment is the Food and Civil Supplies Commissioner who was reportedly transferred ? after special permission from the Election Commissioner ? because of her inefficiency in handling the so-called onion crisis.

After the Swiss diplomat's rape, there was also talk that the Delhi Police Commissioner R.S. Gupta might be asked to pack his bags. But, perhaps wary of the controversy such a move may create, the Home Ministry did not react. This despite the fact that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has spared no forum from where to raise the issue of the safety of women in the Capital. The rapist may not realise it, but in committing the crime, he not only violated the victim, but also gave an issue to the Congress with which to beat the BJP.

Interestingly, the day after the diplomat's rape, a schoolgirl was raped in Rohini by her teacher. I have yet to hear of any politician from the Congress raising issues about her safety. Agreed, women are unsafe here. But submitting memorandums and asking the Home Ministry to take a stern look at the law and order situation here is quite like passing the buck. There is a lot that the Delhi Government can also do. Demands on the Central Government seem ironic in face of the fact that Rape Crisis Intervention Centres like Ummeed have been forced to shut down because of a lack of funds.

The manner in which Madan Lal Khurana has been going to town about the dengue epidemic makes one wonder whether the Aedes Egypti mosquitoes may not actually be agents of a particular party, sent on secret missions to spread their deadly disease and unsettle the government. What Khurana is silent about is the fact that the dengue mosquito is in fact a clean killer. It breeds only in clean stagnant water and not in drains or sewers. It's a domestic or para-domestic breed and the onus for not allowing it to breed in home lies squarely with the residents.

It is this very tendency of politicians to try and use any and every issue for their personal political gains that has left most common citizens sceptical about their intentions. One does not doubt Dikshit's sincerity in her concern for the safety of women, or Khurana's belief in the Congress's failure to clean the city, but for people who have seen politicians attempt to capitalise on issues for their own political gains, their flag-waving seems a little shallow.

Going by past experience, it becomes quite clear that any issue that gets politicised actually ends up becoming a lost cause. Like the regularisation of unauthorised colonies — something that would have given better living conditions to so many people, like the shifting of industries from residential areas — something that is essentially an urban living issue, or even the statehood issue — all these are now being tossed between both the parties with very little forward movement.

More than alienating people from politicians, this tendency of politicising everything is a necessary evil of democracy that we have learnt to live with.