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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Former Congress MP, Pradeep Majhi was recently caught on camera asking someone over phone to keep petrol and diesel ready and set things on fire once instructions were issued. The video showing Majhi making the call was apparently shot during the Nabarangpur Bandh organised by his party to protest the alleged gangrape and murder of a sixteen-year-old dalit girl in Gumandali village under Kosagumuda block of the district.

Local police are reported to have registered a case against Manjhi in connection with the incident. On his part, the MP not only remains unapologetic but has sought to justify it all saying that things have come to such a pass that it has become necessary to follow the path of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose instead of Mahatma Gandhi. For Majhi Gandhi seems to have become irrelevant in the present scenario with his ideal of non-violence a shibboleth that no longer works.

Politicians trying to incite violence is nothing new but what is surprising is the brazen manner in which the former MP attempted this on the day of Bandh. No wonder Majhi finds himself out on a limb. His own party colleagues including the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Niranjan Patnaik have refused to come to his rescue.

Majhi enjoys the image of a dynamic leader who has a huge following among the youth. He is seen as a go-getter who will not hesitate to resort to desperate measures to get things done. His radical image has lent him an aura that sustains him as a politician. But he seems to have taken things too far this time. The incident has cast him in poor light, projecting him as a firebug. While this may have fetched him temporary political gains it has done irreparable damage to his party’s image.

But why blame Majhi alone when modern-day politicians appear to have deliberately honed violence as a weapon to achieve their goals. Politicians of all hues have been found inciting violence sometime or other. They have been accused of masterminding communal riots and cold-blooded murders. What is worrisome is that while they get away with it in most of the cases innocent people are made scapegoats. They are made to suffer for the sins of these self-serving ‘netas’.

Personally speaking, I am even against agitational modes like roadblocks and ‘rail roko’ frequently resorted to by political parties as I see them as manifestations of passive violence. Apart from the fact that they inconvenience people, causing all kinds of hardships they are often sought to be enforced in a manner that can hardly be described as democratic. There is no dearth of instances where activists involved in such forms of protests have ended up physically harming people for not obeying their diktat.

Violence cannot be approved of in any of its forms—active or passive. Democracy has no place for violence because it goes against the basic tenets of decent human behaviour. It should not even be the last resort in desperate situations which, according to some, call for desperate measures.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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