A citizen's open letter chastises both Modi and Mamata but finds Modi more guilty of the two
The Prime Minster's review meetings perhaps do serve a purpose, though people can never be sure. But the public displays of pique and pet peeves by leaders are best avoided at critical times
My dear quarrelling duo,
I know your disdain for late Mr Vajpayee, one of the last protagonists of the Raj Dharma. But the country, especially during a global pandemic leading to an unprecedented health emergency, cannot remain in combat mode 24x7 to keep your political interests alive. People and the country are a lot more than either Modi or Mamata or even both of you taken together.
Neither of you have covered yourself with glory by displaying on Friday what uncannily resembles what might be called the ‘Khap’ mentality. It was possibly even worse. Elections are won and lost but the country’s interest and the well being of 139 crore souls must rank above all other interests.
Mamata Di, heavens would not have fallen if you had shared a conference room with the PM and the leader of the opposition in the Assembly. Nor would the heavens have fallen, Prime Minister, if you had kept the leader of the opposition out of the conference room. It was after all an administrative meeting. It was strange that having ignored all appeals to convene an All Party meeting on the management of Covid, you suddenly felt like inviting the opposition leader from your party to a meeting with the chief minister.
You have had no problem in the past sharing platforms and figuring in photographs with some of India's most wanted fugitives. And with the Central Bureau of Investigation having sought the Lok Sabha Speaker's sanction to prosecute Shubhendu Adhikari, an accused in the 'Narada scam', you could have avoided inviting him. Or if you had to see him, he could have been seated elsewhere and not placed next to the West Bengal Governor. Indeed, you could have met opposition leaders also before the review meeting or after.
I do not claim to be a well informed man. But the limited information that I have, suggests that rarely, if ever, have leaders of the opposition or even the Governor for that matter, have been part of review meetings held after each major natural disaster.
People would not be wrong to assume that the invitation to Shuvendu Adhikari was driven more by the desire and design to provoke the West Bengal chief minister. It was a cheap gimmick which has not added inches to your height or width. Rather it has only further dwarfed the PM’s image or whatever is left of it.
Those who created an avoidable controversy by hastily inviting a dubious guest to the high table will now possibly repent at leisure.
I seek your forgiveness for doing some plain speaking. I know that the offices occupied by you are not programmed to hear the bitter truth and my unsolicited advice may well be ignored. But as they say, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. Both of you need to stop behaving like petulant children or juvenile delinquents in the interest of the people.
A citizen and a well wisher
(The writer is an independent commentator. Views are personal)