Politics or governance
Perhaps there is one lesson for the political class to learn from the Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh. The administrators will have to keep politics away from governance. In simpler words they will have to initiate action against the culprits without going into their caste or the community.
This is precisely the question that I had raised at a session on Constitutional Morality and Imagination of Justice, organised by the GB Pant Social Science Institute at Allahabad last week. The very premise of constitutional morality is that the state shall not discriminate. But when the very foundation on which the governments are formed is discriminatory, how can one imagine or expect justice? Which constitutional morality are then we talking about?
Discrimination starts with the construction of vote banks. I remember soon after the formation of Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, Prof Badri Narain had observed, “The government will have to take all together.”
And this is precisely where the state government failed in Muzaffarnagar that shamed the country, the state and its leadership. The political class were divided on communal lines, irrespective of their party affiliations while the government not only developed cold feet but also initiated one-sided action under pressure from the community that had played a vital role in bringing the Samajwadi Party to power in 2012. As a result people demanding justice took power in their hands.
Even after the riots, the political class has not learnt any lessons. RLD-Congress is worried as there is a wide split in their vote bank of Muslims and Jats; the Samajwadi Party faces flak from the community it wanted to save; the BJP wants justice for Jats and finds fault with minority appeasement and so on.
Already speculations are rife about Ajit Singh’s political plans. Isn’t it strange that he had not accompanied the Prime Minister to his home state or the political karma bhumi?
Choudhary had snapped ties with the BJP months before the 2012 assembly elections as the Congress had offered him ministerial berth in lieu of alliance in West UP and now that the Lok Sabha term is nearing completion and his base votes of Jats are drenched in the saffron hue, don’t be surprised if he returns to the BJP.
The political realignment has thus started in West UP much before the refugees could return home.
Now that the embers are still burning, the administration will have to move carefully even while initiating action against those who incited communal violence in a highly polarised atmosphere.
But the guilty should not go scot-free irrespective of the caste or community!