Belgian woman molested: Why the response stinks of cynical politics

The reaction of different political parties to the molestation of a Belgian woman on Saturday night is cynical politics at its worst.

The BJP and the Congress were quick to point an accusing finger at the AAP government in Delhi, while the latter shifted the blame on unlicensed app-based taxi services. Such responses are cynical because all parties, as usual, evade the core issue — absence of any change in the women safety scenario in the capital state — and continue to use such unfortunate incidents as tools for political point-scoring.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Now, a couple of questions: Does being associated with app-based cab services make drivers more sexually aggressive? Don’t similar incidents happen in autorickshaws and other taxis too? Where’s the guarantee that a cab driver with antecedents verified won’t commit a crime against a woman passenger? We know the answers, as do the political parties.

This has less to do with app-based services or more with the general environment of lack of safety in Delhi. Criminals, potential or real, are confident that they can get away with their actions. True, the cab service aggregators cannot be in an all-profit, no responsibility or accountability situation all the time, but the problem goes much beyond them.

Nothing much has changed on the ground despite the hullabaloo over the 16 December, 2012 gang rape case. There have been platitudes and promises from all concerned, no real delivery. The reality is an Indian citizen is as vulnerable to sexual predators as a foreigner is even now. Good policing, efficient and visible, is the solution to the problem. Hardly any progress has been made on this front. The Delhi government does not control the police, the Union government does. It creates problems of coordination and management of a thinly-spread force. While the problem has been there for long, we are yet to see a movement forward in this regard.

It’s a sorry state of affairs which makes all political parties culpable. So when they jump to blame game routine, they appear hollow. “This is not a one-off incident. The government has been very lax and the number of incidents against women has gone up,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told the media. Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta (of the BJP) said the AAP made several promises to improve the safety of women in the city, but not a single one had been implemented. Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit said women felt more unsafe now than earlier. The AAP responded by demanding a blanket ban on unlicensed app-based cab operators in the whole of NCR till they agreed to the safety regulations of the government.

On the face of it, the concern is genuine. But haven’t we heard all this before?

Given Delhi’s location on the political, administrative and geographical map of the country, its problems are in some ways, unique.

Any decision here requires the involvement of several governments. In the case of taxis, the cooperation of neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan is critical. It is important in case of combating air pollution too. To bring all of them together on any issue requires political will and sagacity. The propensity to jumping into finger-pointing among all parties reflects a lack of both.

It’s cynical politics at play. And rest assured, it would lead us nowhere.

Updated Date: May 09, 2016 10:58 AM

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