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After the tragedy, a circus begins

Last updated on: February 17, 2010 13:44 IST

After the tragedy, a circus begins

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Prasanna D Zore in Pune

We have seen it before.

Remember November 27, 2008, a day after terror struck Mumbai and Narendra Modi landing down in front of the Trident hotel to express his solidarity with the dead and injured even as NSG commandos were still taking on the terrorists holed up inside the five-star hotel, in his bid to emerge as a national leader?

We saw a similar scene on February 14, a day after a bomb ripped apart German Bakery in Pune, killing 11 and injuring 60.

And -- excuse me my cynicism but I have reason to be so -- we are going to see it in future as well.

Political leaders -- cutting across party lines -- having one eye on their electoral constituency and the other on the number of electronic media cameras at the site, love a good bomb blast, or a terror attack, or a stampede or a tragedy.

The bigger the number of dead and injured, the brighter is the twinkle in their eyes.

No sooner is a tragedy or a terror strike reported anywhere in the country, begins their plans to exploit it cynically. The same was witnessed on February 14 in Pune.

One can understand the visits of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Home Minister R R Patil and his deputy Ramesh Bagwe, deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal and Union home minister P Chidambaram, for they are responsible for our safety and security and hence accountable to the people.

But what explains the presence of worthies such as state co-operation minister Harshvardhan Patil, power minister Dilip Walse-Patil, Bala Nandgaonkar of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Ramdas Athavale of the Republican Party of India, Union agriculture and food and civil supplies minister Sharad Pawar, newly elected BJP president Nitin Gadkari, and other party leaders like Prakash Jawadekar, Eknath Khadse, Gopinath Munde, Sushma Swaraj and Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe?


Image: (Clockwise, from top left) Ramdas Athavale, Bala Nandgaonkar, Nitin Gadkari with Gopinath Munde, and Sharad Pawar in Pune after terror struck
Photographs: Reuters and Rediff Archives
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It simply defies logic, doesn't it! But then nobody expects politicians to be rational and sane (do you?). Not at least when there's political dividend to be reaped, passions to be inflamed, bucks to be passed and sound bytes to be given.

Nandgaonkarsaheb, one can understand your love for Pune's Marathi people but what good did you do by taking a look inside German Bakery and then giving a byte to the media about why the state government worthies responsible for our safety and security should resign? Are you going to raise this issue in the legislative assembly? What are the MNS's plans to bring the government on the mat on the issue of terrorism?

Did you really think your investigations inside German Bakery (your pathetic byte to the media about there still being remnants of human flesh and mutilated fingers) was going to add any value to the various investigating agencies already doing their jobs?

Sir, please let us know who allowed you access to such a sensitive site even as officials were collecting forensic evidence to gather some breakthroughs and nail the culprits. Perhaps the state government and the investigating officers manning the site thought you were the best forensic expert available on hand who could crack the case pronto and so they let you in?

What kind of authority did you flash to gain access to the cordoned off German Bakery? And why shouldn't we blame the state CM, home minister and his deputy for such a serious lapse and provide a satisfactory answer to these questions, or else it will be a free for all the next time such a tragedy strikes.

The only impressive thing, Nandgaonkarsaheb, was your visit to the Budhrani and Inlaks Hospital where you directed your local corporator, Rajendra Vagaskar, to help Aditi Jindal's (one of blast victims who was hospitalised there with 35 per cent burns and deteriorating) uncle facilitate her transfer to a private ward as her uncle, a plastic surgeon from Delhi, feared that her infection could only increase if she were to be placed with other victims.

Nonetheless, it would surely have been better if you had skipped your visit to German Bakery and concentrated on solving problems of the victims admitted in various city hospitals along with your grassroots workers, some of whom showed exemplary selflessness on the evening of the blast.

I am sure I am not asking too much of you and you will bear this in mind the next time you beam before the electronic media with ghastly details. And yes, before I forget, please ask your entourage to park their vehicles outside the hospitals you visit. I heard quite a few uncharitable things about you and your party from the kin of the victims admitted at Budhrani hospital.


Image: Bala Nandgaonkar of MNS with party corporator Rajendra Vagaskar (to his right) addressing mediapersons near German Bakery on February 14
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
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Ramdasbhai, what explains your presence at Sassoon Hospital some time before your political mentor and godfather Sharad Pawar, who everybody knew was supposed to arrive there by 6 pm on February 14? That too with 50 sycophants in tow! Were they doctors or paramedics who you had tugged along to treat the injured? Sir, please spare such atrocities for your enemies, and I am sure those injured in the bomb blast are not your enemies.

Such gimmickry can never win you an election ticket, what to talk of an election! It is because of such attitude towards people that cost you the last Lok Sabha election from the reserved constituency of Pandharpur. Stop being such a sadist. The injured would have loved your attention were it genuine, which you could have then capitalised for your political aggrandisement. But alas, your shortsightedness prevailed over good sense.

Finally, the least said about the Maratha strongman the better. The most experienced of the lot who visited Sassoon Hospital later that evening, Union Agriculture and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sharad Pawar seems to have lost his magic touch with the people. Had it been 10 years back he would have quietly taken the backstage and allowed the authorities to get cracking in solving the case or providing succour to the injured at hospitals.

But then this is now and Pawar desperately needs some good publicity (after his genuflection at Matoshree?) even at the cost of visiting a municipal hospital that is choc-a-bloc with victims of terror attack and those unfortunate who can't afford costly medical bills at private hospitals.

On what moral authority did you visit the injured at Sassoon Hospital? Aren't you the minister in charge of teh country's agriculture and food and civil supplies? It's a different thing that you are more obsessed with the 'I' factor, be it the IPL, Indian cricket or the ICC. How about tacking another I that is the sole mandate of your ministry: Inflation? Were you trying to deflect attention from your failures on this front by visiting Matoshree and then Sassoon Hospital on February 14?


Image: Ramdas Athavale at Sassoon Hospital in Pune on the evening of February 14
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
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Pawarsaheb, there's a saying that goes, 'too many cooks spoil the broth'. Don't you think one of your ablest lieutenants R R Patil, who also happens to be the state's home minister, is capable of handling the case without your famed administrative skills of which you are so proud? Of course, you are not meddling with Patil's authority but nobody wanted to see you in Pune consoling the injured victims. At least, not just a day after the tragic bomb blast.

When will India's politicians understand that victims need treatment for their injuries and trauma that such an event often entails and not silly politicians mouthing platitudes and disturbing the medical staff who offer succour to the injured despite their limitations (heard the head nurse treating the blast victims at Sassoon telling the dean to provide them with more medical staff and end interference from politicians)?
 
But then every politician loves a good bomb blast or a terror attack. It is exactly this reason why the likes of Nandgaonkar, Athawale, Pawar, Gadkari, Munde, Khadse, Patil, Gorhe and Swaraj make a beeline, to draw political dividend.

And it is exactly this reason that encourages the perpetrators of the German Bakery blast to go about their task unhindered with clockwork precision. They know that the law and order machinery is busy with providing security to multiplexes. They know what follows such a tragic event is not serious and determined investigation to nail them but a game of political one-upmanship, internal bickerings, name calling and media interviews.

Isn't it time people waved black flags at all these politicians making hay while terrorists keep blasting the country at will?


Image: Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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