High Moral Ground At Stake in Up Politics – Congress Up Chief in Deep Trouble

Maya Right Or Wrong is Different Butsanity Demands Political Decency in Public Life

War of words was at its vulgarly worst in UP recently. Congress chief Mrs. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, in her over enthusiasm to champion the cause of the rape victims, used derogatory language against the UP Chief Minister exceeding all norms of political decency. Equally condemnable was the attack and arson that followed at the residence of Joshi and subsequent charges framed against Joshi under various sections of IPC and PCA against SC/ST seemed to be excessive. It is now up to the law courts to decide but then damage has been done.

The attention from the main issue need not be diverted from the vulgarity and viciousness of what the UPCC Chief said and meant against the woman CM of the state which Maya described it as “humiliating, uncivilized and derogatory”.

Ms. Joshi could have articulated her demand more decently and in a civilised manner without invoking the language of sexual assault against Mayawathi. Maybe Ms. Joshi could have taken a leaf out of the book of Maywathi herself when she in a similar situation used the same derogatory remarks against the women folk of then CM Mulayam Singh. But two wrongs cannot make one right.

Whatever may be the provocation or however sensitive the issue may be, one should not cross the norms of political decency. Ms. Joshi was rightly condemned for her caustic remarks against Maya by none other than Sonia Gandhi herself and her own party men in UP. Sonia expressed her pain and anguish over Joshi’s comments on Maywathi personality and all indications are that Joshi would be shown the door soon.

Ms. Joshi might be right in condemning the sanction of a meager amount to the rape victims as ‘compensation’ even if they belong to the Dality community but then Maya says that she was just following the norms fixed by the Central Govt. Certainly cash as “compensation” might sound morally abhorrent to some people but the reality is that the rape victims need the help and support of the state to rebuild their lives. Since in a society where the victims tend to be stigmatised, it is the duty of the state to put in place certain support system to help the victim to overcome the trauma. It is pertinent to view that monetary compensation for rape victims was nothing but as an essential element towards rehabilitation most of whom are from a deprived background.

In the recent time, however, stigma attached to the rape victim is now being extended to accepting compensation from the state concerned. This is certainly a dangerous trend in the society.

Notwithstanding the above, Joshi, found no supporters even among her own unit in UP as many chose to distance themselves from her. Even the Congress President was not happy with her vilification against Mayawathi. Naturally, the demand for her ouster had gained currency. Besides, after the incident Joshi lost her status as a party chief in the state on moral grounds and she deserved to be removed from the post at the earliest. The Party High Command, if willing to take a high moral ground in the party, it should immediately remove her from the party post to set an example of accountability and sending a signal that however, high one may be placed in the party ladder, is not above law. This would also raise the image of the party in the eyes of the public in general and dalits of the country in particular. Earlier done is better for Congress party notwithstanding the apology tendered by Joshi earlier.

In any case, Ms. Joshi has to come out unscathed from the charges filed against her and it would take some time. Till then, the party cannot take shelter under the niceties of law. Let the law takes its own course, while Congress Party act swiftly to remove her from the post as a damage building measure.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha
A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.