Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rally raaj..No end in sight!!!

Dr. Rajendra Prasad would have never imagined while framing the Indian constitution that the democratic rights meant for providing some freedom to the common citizen, would actually become a tool in the hands of powers that be to strangle that very freedom to live a peaceful life.
The harassment faced by the average Kolkatan has been heightened these days at the hands of the political parties who choose the busiest of traffic intersections to vent out their political agendas , while shamelessly ignoring the plight of the local people. As the voices of protests kept growing with the local media joining in, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday said that rallies at busy intersections like the Metro Channel(Esplanade) and R.R. Avenue did inconvenience people and stressed the need for alternative venues where such gatherings can be organized. While this acknowledgement should be greeted, one wonders whether the power hungry political bosses would care to adhere to the norms of the court, as it has in the past too on many occasions defied its rulings.

With the 2011 Assembly elections looming large, no party in the fray wants to take it lightly, and defiantly put up daises bang in the middle of the road, accompanied by their faithful supporters and with loudspeakers blaring out their “Ideologies”, while the traffic comes to a standstill, and the normal life in the city goes haywire. While this is the norm in most of the busy areas of the city, the worst affected( and most sought after) are the Metro Channel , Rani Rashmoni Avenue and Rashbehari Avenue, all major traffic intersections, thus causing the maximum inconvenience to the motorists. It is probably this bizarre psyche of the politicians here that the more people affected, the better their point gets across, hence the choice of the venue.

According to a recent survey by a local traffic department, the major intersections in the city are blocked by the rallies for around 300 days a year; one can easily imagine what the locals have to go through. Be it a child who fails to reach his school to give his exam, the ailing patient who waits agonizingly for his treatment, the employee who fails to reach his workplace on time or even a simple act of shopping on festivals ( as was seen during Christmas), everything and everyone gets affected because our political parties refuse to see reason and budge from their stance. It is quite simple to understand that the rallies not only affect the roads they are held on, but also the adjoining and interconnected routes which too gets choked , and remains such for hours at large because of the act, thus throwing normal life into a tizzy . What is even more bizarre is the choice of the timings, (usually around 12 pm) and the day, ( usually midweek), they are held. The commuters have no option other than to get infuriated, inconvenienced and lament their fate.

It is not as if the political parties do not recognize this growing restlessness against their rallies, but they simply shrug their shoulders and move on with the ‘I couldn’t care less’ kind of attitude. Left Front chairman Biman Bose had recently said “ I know people will get inconvenienced , but what can we do? It is our party programme.” It is one of those rare things in Kolkata politics where the views of all political bigwigs are similar.

Fact is the police too can’t do anything about it, and the parties have to just insure that they don’t clash with their rivals on the same venue, so “bookings” are made well in advance. So isn’t there any solution?? The local media had suggested some alternative venues, like some plots off the road in E.M Bypass, but who is listening?? Who would go for so much trouble, when they can easily assemble lakhs in short notice, and garner the highest mileage in the other more ‘reliable ‘ venues.

I guess it is the price people here will have to pay, for being a Kolkatan. That has become a sad reality of the place which was once the knowledge capital of the country. The reality that while the rulers have their right to speak, the people whose vote they use to come to power , the common man’s right to walk can go for a toss!!

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