The Gujjar agitation in May-June last year stunned the Rajasthan government. The Chief Minister apparently had no clue that the agitation could turn so violent. Subsequently there was a strong demand that the state’s CM must be removed from her post for failing to gauge or control the trouble in time.
2 illegally built market complex catch fire in the city on Jan 12, and just 2 days later (Jan 14) 7 heavyweight politicos from distant Rajasthan converge in the city to hasten the allegedly sloth fire-fighting efforts. They – ministers, MLAs, MPs, and officials from there – wanted to take their Bengal counterparts to task at – where else, but – Writers Building for the latter’s apparent incompetence.
The question that pops up is what makes the western dignitaries hotfooting to a place 2000 km away from their fiefdom and enter into a could-have-been fisticuff with a Bengal minister? The audacious display of temper by the Rajasthani politicians is no less stunning than the abysmal failure of their government to control the Gujjar strife.
I’m not saying the state’s fire minister is a saint. He shouts hoarse the dangers the Durga Puja committees pose by not abiding the fire safety standards in the pandals. But when the push actually becomes a shove as in the present case in Burrabazar, his culpability leaves no one in doubt. But that’s a different point.
As it usually happens, disasters bare truth. In the case of Burrabazar inferno, the fact that the Marwari businessmen, who have a vice-like grip on the city’s commerce, have flouted every necessary civic and safety norm to flourish their business stands naked.
Not without reason therefore the VIPs from Rajasthan are sparing no effort to show their concern, which for once looks really genuine.
This strange but real concern from afar raises questions. Does not this indicate an unseen thread of mutuality that has percolated not only the layers of powers-that-be in Bengal but also extended to the distant state of Rajasthan? I believe this is so.
Meanwhile, from my brief interactions with various people, I’m convinced that no tear is shed for the businessmen who lost ‘everything’ in the fire. Sounds harsh? But it’s true.
To most, the Burrabazar fire is at best a grand spectacle better seen from a distance, and at worst a major irritant on way to Howrah station and doing other needful nearby.
Despite the screaming headlines, the common perception is, “The fire is atoning for the sins of illegality. May better sense now prevail!”
Update (Jan 16):
Ex-VP Bhairon Singh Shekhawat visited the city yesterday to express solidarity with the ‘dispossessed’ business people of Burrabazar. Also, Basant Kumar Birla, the doyen of Birla empire, announced a grant of Rs.2 crore for the affected.
There will perhaps be more sympathy/donation than what comes in papers. Surprisingly, none of the sympathizers speak anything about the utter disregard of the norms and the illegality of the whole thing. Wonder why..?