When politicians learnt not to take public sentiment lightly
It was perhaps the fastest trial in the state’s history.
Five days after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, citizens’ anger and spontaneous protests led to the ouster of both Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy, Home Minister R.R. Patil.
At the Centre, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had already been asked to put in his papers. By December 1, three top ministers had been asked to take moral responsibility and quit.
“It [people’s reaction] was an extremely strong outburst, unlike what most of us had witnessed earlier,” said Jayant Patil, rural development minister, who replaced R.R. Patil after 26/11. “All politicians learnt a lesson post 26/11 and that is to not take public sentiment lightly.’’
Uttara Sahastrabuddhe, associate professor at the Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai, said citizens’ anger and ensuing protests, especially the protest at Gateway of India, gave politicians in Delhi and the state jitters. “This was perhaps the first time that a Chief Minister was asked to quit by taking moral responsibility,’’ said Sahastrabuddhe.
In the past, chief ministers have been asked to go following allegations of corruption or misconduct. A.R. Antulay from the Congress had to resign from the post of chief minister in 1982 following controversy over collecting excess money to issue permits for the sale of cement.
No CM has had to quit because he failed to do his job well. With Deshmukh and Patil, their own actions and statements went against them. (See box)
“Post-26/11, there was a strong, overwhelming reaction against politicians,’’ said Congress Member of Parliament, Sanjay Nirupam.
He said the Congress was not arrogant to ignore the public angst.
“The party president’s decision was to be sensitive to public outcry, honestly accept failure and hence the resignations of the Union Home minister and Chief Minister,’’ Nirupam said.