Shiv Sena-BJP rift foments tension

Dr Bhalchandra Kango

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]hiv Sena had called for a Hindu ‘Shakti March’ in Aurangabad on May 19 against the city police and the home department which failed to take action against those responsible for recent mob violence here.

The three wards of old city in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, witnessed a mob violence in which houses and shops were set aflame, and vehicles were damaged. There were two people who lost their lives. One of them was 72- year-old Chaganlal Bansile who died when the building he was staying at was burnt by the mob. Chaganlal was handicapped and could not leave the house on time. And then, another boy, adolescent of 16 years, Abdul Haris was killed in police firing.

The immediate cause of this violence is still not known but it is alleged that one of the reasons could be that the city corporation had taken action against hawkers on illegal water connections. Also there was dispute between some fruit vendors and consumers in one of the wards that led to mob violence. However the scale and planning of arson and damage to the property indicate a planned effort to incite communal violence.

Aurangabad corporation is under Shiv Sena and BJP since 1990, yet they have failed to solve the issues of water scarcity and garbage disposal. They have also failed to provide public transport. The roads are in badly damaged condition and no steps have been taken to improve them. To make matter worse, financial mismanagement and steep fall in revenue collection have added to the existing problem. There is discontent simmering among people and creating a divide in Sena- BJP combine. Both the parties keep issuing statements against each other.

The Shakti March called by the Shiv Sena also failed to evoke response. Despite the fact that the march took place even though police had refused permission, it was only a small number of people who joined it.

Local Sena MP accused the chief minister, who is also the home minister, of being anti-Hindu and inefficient. BJP MLA, while responding to it, accused Sena MP of being ungrateful and responsible for the present situation. The open war within the ruling faction in the corporation between Sena and BJP corporators is an admission of inability to resolve pending civic problems.

Police have been taking actions on the basis of video clips provided by people.

The discontent is simmering on account of an attempt to privatise water management through private company also, but the process has failed to take off. On the other hand, corruption has reached unprecedented proportions.

It is generally felt that to divert attention of people from these prickly issues, an attempt was made to create communal tension that led to riots in these wards. It was the common masses in Aurangabad who could not be deceived by such measures as they saw through the game. However, the rest of the city remained calm. The communal tension and the fall out of such incidents would leave its impact on the city, especially in the coming corporation election.

The district secretary of the Communist Party of India Ashfaque Salami along with city secretary Lahane and assistant secretary Abhay Taksal visited the affected areas and appealed for peace. A delegation of left parties met police officers and demanded strict actions against miscreants.

Engineer Irfan and a team of CPI members are submitting a fact finding report soon. It is hoped that this will help to understand the provocations behind the riots. State Mahila Federation president Smita Pansare and her team also met thee affected people and appealed for peace and harmony.

An interesting observation was made by Mahila Federation delegation which said that most of the small shops burnt were at strategic sites and there was pressure from vested interests for getting them vacated. It appears that in order to hide the real intention some big shops were also damaged. They also demanded that action must be taken against police who went inside the houses and beat up women. Similarly women vendors who have lost their livelihood need to be compensated.

People in the city have realised that the responsibility for such acts must be shouldered by the ruling party that failed miserably to contain the chaos. All the news papers have also taken up the issue and are accusing the ruling party of deliberately causing deterioration in the situation as they cannot face people’s wrath against their failure to resolve problems.

Incidents of co-operation and mutual help offered by Hindu and Muslim population in this difficult situation are heartening and exhibit real spirit of India.

(Author is a senior journalist)