Debating India
Home page > Public directory > Opinions, medias & society > Making death count, politically

Making death count, politically

Friday 27 July 2001, by KHARE*Harish

NEW DELHI, JULY 26: Even before the body of the slain Samajwadi Party MP, Phoolan Devi, could be airlifted to her constituency in Uttar Pradesh for cremation, political parties had begun exploiting the murder for partisan purposes. The SP leader, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, left no one in doubt that as far as his party was concerned, Phoolan Devi’s cremation was the beginning of the State Assembly election campaign.

It has been noted that the SP virtually excluded Phoolan Devi’s family from any say over whether the cremation should take place in Delhi or Mirzapur. Finally, political considerations prevailed, and the body was taken to Mirzapur. The potential of extensive television coverage seems to have whetted political appetites.

Demands of political correctness found both the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Leader of Opposition, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, constrained to be seen as paying homage to Phoolan Devi, though neither would have been comfortable in her company while she was alive. The two Houses of Parliament were adjourned as a mark of respect for the slain parliamentarian, though many members privately voiced reservations whether she deserved such tribute.

But no political party was willing to be seen as lacking in enthusiasm or respect for a ``backward caste leader’’. Mr. Mulayam Singh is reported to have announced in Varanasi that his party would stall the proceedings in Parliament on account of ``conspiracy’’.

The BJP spokesperson, Mr. V. K. Malhotra, was at pains to deplore the politicisation being injected into Phoolan Devi’s murder and its aftermath. On the other hand, the former U.P. Chief Minister, Mr. Kalyan Singh, alleged that she was killed because she sought to champion the cause of ``the downtrodden’’.

See online : The Hindu

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0