RAHUL GANDHI AND THE OWNERSHIP PAPERS OF THE RESETTLEMENT COLONIES: THE ALL SO FAMILIAR IRONIES OF INDIAN POLITICS

September 10, 2013 – it was a news heavy day yet again. In the galaxy of two sweeping news events, the verdict in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case and Narendra Modi’s rally in Jaipur, almost every other development was scrambling to get some more elusive space.

But on this news heavy day, there was yet another somewhat stuffy news story. Though it was too on the front pages of many newspapers in Delhi, it did not get the attention that a Rahul Gandhi story usually gets.

But that is not the point here. The point is about the news story related to Rahul Gandhi and the associated irony with it, the irony that has become all so familiar by its abundance.

The newsy stuff was Rahul Gandhi was to distribute the freehold ownership papers to the families of 45 resettlement colonies in Delhi. The promoted welfare measure (read opportunistic electoral step) was intended to benefit 7 lakh (700,000) families who were rehabilitated in these resettlement colonies.

On the face of it, for a person unknown to the realities of the Indian politics of the day, it all sounds so socially oriented.

For a person, who is well aware of the demoralizing facts of the Indian politics of the way, it was yet another electoral sop timed and pushed ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in Delhi.

But scratch a little, and the famed irony surfaces. These resettlement colonies were already there by 1980 with most of them built during Indira Gandhi’s days to rehabilitate the slum dwellers.

So, why did it take so many years, over three decades to handover a mere piece of paper to a house-owner, who was already, in principle and in real terms, given the ownership of the house by the government only?

When the land was already demarcated and the residents were already relocated, why did it take the governments so long to give the people their rightful authority over the property that had become their?

But, no one is asking this question. The issue may not be on the radar of the people resettled in these colonies as they were already in hold of their possession, something that was ‘given’ to them at a nominal lease rent, though they could not do many things that a full ownership could have helped them do, because they could never realise the full rights given to them by the Constitution. They could not differentiate between ‘right’ and ‘largesse’.

So, even if there should have been protests over it, no one protested.

It could have been done much earlier. But such measures only come to the fore when politicians find them short of issues to score easy victory in elections. It has become a trend, to deliberately drag the issues to time them according to the poll schedules, no matter how much more good, in real terms, the measures could have done, when properly and timely implemented.

Its glaring example is the United Progressive Alliance’s Food Security Bill. It was in UPA’s 2009 manifesto but could only come to the implementation stage right before the important assembly polls of 2013 (Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattishgarh) and the parliamentary polls of 2014.

Okay, if it would take a year to get it to the legislation and implementation stage, still, it could have been lunched three years ago. It is not that the segment of the population intended to be covered under the Food Security Act was not there three years ago or was not there all these three years. So, going by that, the UPA government should be held guilty for denying millions the right to food security after making a promise. The Indian Economy was certainly in better shape in 2010 than now.

Politicians know voters are fools who don’t realise what is good or bad for them or who is good or bad for them. They know voters are controlled by a myopic vision that obstructs their rational thinking ability and so they can easily be manipulated by the populist electoral sops just before the elections to get that impulsive reaction from them in the form of their vote.

So here, the Congress timed, yet again, an electoral sop to handover the ownership documents to the relocated population of these resettlement colonies just before the assembly elections of Delhi. It is also to be seen with the poll projections that are saying the Congress is going to face a certain defeat.

On target are the 3 million (30 lakh) residents of these colonies, a significant chunk of Delhi’s over 16.5 million population base and a lucrative votebank thus.

What Rahul Gandhi did yesterday, Sonia Gandhi had done before the 2008 assembly polls in Delhi. Then, she had distributed the provisional certificates of regularization to unauthorized colonies. The party had won the polls. Reports say the Congress is preparing for a big rally this month where Sonia Gandhi would distribute the original certificates of regularization to these colonies.

The pile of the ‘familiar irony’ keeps mounting up.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – http://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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