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It’s all for votes and not for the health!

Posted in View Point

Published on November 07, 2019 with No Comments

As  people of Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) spent their days coughing and with watery eyes under the ‘hazardous’ blanket of thick, deleterious smog, the leaders from across the party lines took a chance to speak up. Speak up not for the people, but for creating a political opportunity.

Can the rapid deterioration be a political issue? Yes, in India it can be and it is! Over the last weekend, the air quality in New Delhi, the Schools were declared closed and the Odd –Even scheme for the vehicle was reintroduced. The moment Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the scheme the other parties came out to attack him and they have had a reason to do so, Delhi is set to elect its 70 members of the assembly in February 2020.

The Central government at Delhi led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Kejriwal government tend to blame the pollution levels in Delhi to stubble burning in states of Haryana and Punjab while ignoring the same in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Whereas the government of Punjab tends to remind that it has done enough to bring down the cases of in stubble burning in the state, and central government needs to work on the pollution being created due to ever increasing number of vehicles in New Delhi. This way the leaders are able to cover their shortcomings in their respective states, without showing any concern whatsoever for the people of Delhi who continue to suffer. The leaders tend to discuss the crucial issue keeping one eye on the ballot box. Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and BSP supremo likened the problem to demonetisation and unemployment thus taking on the Central government. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to compensate farmers suitably so that they can be encouraged to shun stubble burning, and to make the matter exciting Uttar Pradesh minister Sunil Bharala sought divine intervention in the matter and asked governments to perform yagya! The worst reaction came from

BJP MP Vijay Goel who along with party vice-president and Delhi in-charge Shyam Jaju and West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma drove in an odd-numbered vehicle with Goel behind the wheel in a bid to protest against the Delhi government’s move. Goel stopped at roundabout near Le Meridian in central Delhi and voluntarily sought penalty from the traffic cops, paying a fine of Rs 4,000. Goel insisted that if the Delhi government claimed that stubble burning caused pollution, how would oddeven help. His act only proved that parties are trying to cash on the opportunity that has come its way just before the election. Such statement, such acts have become an annual nightmare for the people of Delhi who not only have to suffer on the health front but also have to bear with such statements of leaders who perhaps have no concern for the damage being done to the Delhiets and the generations there off.

The venomous smog has presented the opposition parties  with a perfect campaign pitch. Both Congress and BJP until now were struggleing to come up with a charismatic local leader or an issue to challenge Arvind Kejriwal in the 2020 Delhi election campaign. Now they have an issue to attack him with. However, all this political attention to air pollution risks getting reduced to a finger-pointing exercise. Already, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia has blamed Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar for postponing three environment meetings. At the same time, minister Javadekar blamed the Kejriwal government for for not giving Rs 3,500 crore for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, which would have eased the vehicular overload in Delhi. And Congress’ Delhi leader Kirti Azad attacked both the AAP and the BJP for the mess.

Delhi is literally in a mess! A public health issue that can affect the generations to come, that needed the leaders to come out of party politics is now caught in polarized politics. Any other nation would have come out with a plan, seen to it that it plan is implemented and people get some respite, but that not how it happens in India. It’s all for votes and not for health!


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