Apparently Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been so agitated with the death of senior Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh in a Naxal attack that he repeatedly kept asking Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh as to how the tragedy occurred. And then, at a high-level meeting attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Ministers and others, Rahul raised his voice and asked Raman Singh why enough security was not provided to the party’s ‘Parivartan yatra’ that was attacked by the Naxals killing 27 people, including PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel.
Aspersions of a ‘conspiracy theory’ are but obvious as is the case with every attack or attempt but one would expect pointed abstinence from politicisation of a mayhem that’s commonly associated with India’s rife-infested zones. Placing the blame squarely on a BJP leadership and its concurrent failure to provide security to a Congress yatra passing through a Naxal-ridden zone is too simplistic to be true and lowers the credibility of alleging leaders who should know better.
Coming from the grandson of Indira Gandhi who was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star while walking through the garden of the Prime Minister’s residence, he should have known better than to vouch for security covers, however official.
India and her leaders have had terrible trysts with assassinations. The father of the nation – Mahatma Gandhi – was killed by an assassin in 1948, incidentally the sixth attempt on his life. Five earlier attempts to eliminate him were unsuccessful. Mahatma Gandhi personally would have little by way of security. He had the entire nation backing him. But, that didn’t quite stop Nathuram Godse from walking up to him and bringing the legend down.
Why, Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi too was assassinated in a similar fashion. He was killed in a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, India on May 21 1991. The Supreme Court also held LTTE’s decision to assassinate Gandhi was prompted by his interview in the Sunday magazine edition, where he said he would send the IPKF to disarm the LTTE if he came back to power again. Haven’t we enough evidence that extensive security covers don’t eliminate the probability of an assassination. United State’s 35th President John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassinated too while moving in his presidential motorcade with wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally and Connally’s wife Nellie.
The World’s most powerful nations have failed to protect their own from assassinations. It’s the surprise element that scores each time over in an assassination. More often than not, there is enough intelligence available on the imminent occurrence of an assassination but not enough by way of means to prevent it. Look at Martin Luther King, even Abraham Lincoln, who fell to assailant bullets.
After having witnessed the scourge of assassinations, for Rajiv Gandhi’s widow to join her son in asking the state government officials about the failure to protect the Congress leaders and workers when they were engaged in political activities is sadly being perceived as procuring political mileage out of the killing.
What’s most important is that the Centre and State should make every attempt to bridge differences, on the issue of Naxals at least. The assassination bid aims to create a rift between the two entities which is the only way the Naxals can manage to stay afloat and perpetuate their activities.
The killing of Salwa Judum Chief Mahendra Karma is intended to tell everyone that opposing Naxals meant death. The tribals forced to join Naxals now know they can’t defect to the other side. The State will need to employ the mandatory force to be able to wrench tribal control from the Naxals and reach development to the poorest of poor.
Development holds the key to eliminating the Naxal problem. The Centre-State Blame Game is exactly what the Naxals wanted assassination to trigger. The Centre and State have to drop their differences and work in unison to fight poverty and developmental issues in the zone – the very issues that Naxals thrive on. And this, they will need to do with the clever application of force while, at the same time, dodging the ‘Human Rights’ weapon that provide global sanction to the Naxals.
For one, the Naxals have begun to target unarmed civilians even foreigners, while moving away from their regular targets – armed forces and the police. This will need to be broadcast strongly and methodically to weaken support for Naxals. It will have to be a systemic approach and may take time too. Till then, both the Congress and BJP will have to stop blaming each other. That’s the only way ahead.
Indrajit’s Note : As is evident from the map of India and the effected zones , the issue is not a minor one. Also obvious is the economic linkage – the naxal movements being strongest in the “BiMaARu” states (Bihar , Madhya Pradesh, & Andhra)