India needs a political coalition against calamity

Politicos refuse to recognize the fact that India has changed, that people aren’t easily impressed by their pretensions of concern and care. A case in point is that of VIP visits to Uttarakhand in the guise of helping victims.

A day after Narendra Modi was outlandishly credited with rescuing 15000 Gujarati in a single day in the Hill State, one witnessed the spectacle of Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagging off a fleet of trucks packed with essentials for the victims of the natural catastrophe in the area that’s home to the Chaar Dhaams: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri.

One thought that help for the needy was best reached anonymously or without ado. But not so for our politicians given to appropriating legacies and fighting over mortal remains of iconic leaders. Remember the sorry tussles among family members and party men after the demise of Sheikh Abdullah, N T Ramarao, Devi Lal, M G Ramachandran and Jagjivan Ram?

In situations of grave emergency, the Republic should stand as one; provinces force-multiplying the efforts of the affected State rather than engaging in brownie point scoring or showing down the government in charge. The wrath of nature is best faced through camaraderie, not one-upmanship.

I’m not arguing that governments who do not deliver shouldn’t be put on the mat. The short point I’m making is that motivated, ill-timed criticism demoralizes the people on the ground when they need to be encouraged to act beyond the call of duty.

India knows that the Opposition always perceived Manmohan Singh a “weak” Prime Minister. But it didn’t help one bit when Modi took on the PM in the middle of a commando operation during Mumbai’s 26/11.

Having overseen the State’s reconstruction after the January 2001 earthquake, the Gujarat CM is no stranger to disasters. It’s for that reason that one expected from him a degree of empathy for Vijay Bahuguna’s Herculean challenge in Uttarakhand.

As for the Congress, besides quietly dispatching relief material, the party should have sent volunteers from its youth organizations to run errands, if nothing else, for the sick and hungry people evacuated from the disaster zone. If roads can be built in the name of Nehru, Indira and Rajiv, then why not water kiosks and community kitchens for the hundreds and thousands of trapped yatris?

About time therefore that our politicos learnt to be understated, doing some gupt daan of money and manpower in the service of the people.

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