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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

India must reset its priorities amid multiple crises

Elections are not fought on issues of public interest, but on issues coined by political leaders

Have we completely lost the sense of right and wrong? It is needless to say that we are going through a phase where various kinds of crises have surrounded us. The world’s second-largest force, the Chinese Army is creating trouble on our borders, and 20 of our soldiers have been martyred there. No one knows when this deadlock will end and at what cost. A virus that originated from China has engulfed India and the entire world. We have become one of the top two countries in terms of number of covid-19 cases. So far, more than 80,000 people have lost their lives due to this and about 100,000 people are falling prey to this deadly virus every day.

This great disaster had a direct impact on the economy. We were already sliding down, but covid kicked us hard on the deep slope. We rolled down badly, as never before. As a result, the unemployment rate has reached catastrophic levels. In such a situation, Indian society had to seriously consider how we can overcome these crises. Are we doing this? Not at all.

The entire country has been embroiled in the Sushant Singh Rajput and Rhea Chakraborty episode for the last three months. Did Sushant commit suicide? And why? How responsible was his beloved Rhea? Maharashtra Police was already investigating this incident, then Bihar Police also sent its team. Now the matter has taken a turn and became ‘Bihar vs Maharashtra’ issue, and in the meantime, the central government also interfered. This is perhaps the only case in which the three top investigative agencies of the country are involved.

Now actress Kangana Ranaut has made an entry on her own by comparing Maharashtra to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). For the Shiv Sena, which calls itself the champion of Maharashtra and Marathis, it was like opening a new frontier. The chief minister of Himachal Pradesh also saw an opportunity and entered the high voltage drama. He asked New Delhi to provide protection to this daughter of Himachal. Now Kangana is always surrounded by a dozen CRPF personnel. Overconfident, Kangana is now targeting Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray directly, instead of Shiv Sena. From PoK this discourse has already reached Babar and Babri.

This is the first time a film star has dared to challenge the Thackeray family directly. Bal Thackeray spent more than four decades of his life in building this empire. It will be interesting to see how the Sena will deal with this problem. In the past, Shiv Sainiks were infamous for taking hard-hitting revenge.

Isn’t it disgusting that the untimely death of a young cine-star took a turn and became such a huge controversy that so many governments and political parties jumped into it? There are elections in Bihar and the Bhartiya Janata Party has also decided to make Sushant’s death an election issue. The posters have been printed ‘Na Bhoolenge, Na Bhoolne Denge’ (neither will we forget, nor will we let it be forgotten). Should the issue of the election in Bihar be the death of an actor or the performance of coalition government?

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, has given the entire episode a new twist. He said that Rhea is a Bengali Brahmin woman. Her father, a retired army officer, also has the right to demand justice. He said that the issue is justice for Sushant Singh Rajput, it should not be made into an issue of ‘justice for a Bihari’. Will this matter also affect the election of West Bengal after Bihar? Kangana is a Rajput and Rhea is a Brahmin, Bollywood has never run like this. But politics can manufacture such idioms! It is unfortunate that elections now are not fought on grassroots issues of public interest, but on issues coined by some political leaders.

Our Constitution makers had imagined that India would be a group of territories with different languages and values. Our federalism will be liberal, where the state and central governments will work together for the public interest. I still believe the wisdom of the country is not so frustrated that it would forget these values. However, in order to mislead people, despicable issues are being manufactured. I am also hurt by the death of a promising actor like Sushant, but it was unthinkable for me that politicians will try to make a fortune out of this unfortunate incident.

It is expected that in the brief monsoon session of Parliament, the real issues will be replaced by misguided and inflammatory debates in the TRP-hungry TV studio. Needless to say, the job of Parliament is also to give the right direction to the country. I would like to quote words of B.R. Ambedkar. “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good."

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. His Twitter handle is @shekarkahin

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