Is it not enough that the general public is at present plagued by the nightmarish pandemic which refuses to go away with no sight of deliverance in the near future? Do we deserve the shrill one-upmanship between political parties, both ruling and opposition, when we are relentlessly tormented by the daily news of Covid 19 deaths and fresh infections? Yes, we understand that assembly elections are only a few months away and political parties are warming up for the elections due somewhere in February-March next year. But right now, people are in mourning the daily deaths and fear of fresh infections. The news of death of near and dear ones or fresh infections in the family and relatives continue to torment us, with restrictions keeping us away from sharing the grief or consolation for the families and not being able to attend even to family members in Covid 19 care centres or the hospitals becoming an ordeal for everyone.
Here, we are not talking only of the indifferent attitude to people’s suffering and torment but the sheer audacity of the effort to score brownie points now. Rather, the ongoing discourse is not healthy and not in public interest, and we are certainly disgusted with it.
It all began with a purported statement of the state Chief Minister N Biren Singh that Covid 19 freebies do not fall from the sky, as a response to the nationwide protest against hike in prices of petrol and diesel prices by opposition Congress. Howsoever valid the reasons for the hike in oil prices, not only the opposition Congress but the general public also has every right to protest.
In Imphal, amid the second wave of the pandemic, the price of petrol have crossed the century mark. As most of the commercial vehicles are run by diesel, prices of essential commodities have soared under high transportation charges and it is almost double the price before. The price of petrol and diesel are recorded to be the highest in the state so far.
We understand, Manipur is not the only state facing such a steep price hike in petrol and diesel and it is everywhere across the nation. All over India, the general public is feeling the pinch of scarcity of essential items due to the lockdown and the gradual rise in the price of petroleum products. Somebody had to raise the issue of price hike in petrol and diesel as it is connected with transportation costs of essential items and everything under the sun.
Now, it is not only the Congress but other political parties also who had been staging protests. Funny part is, the ruling BJP only responds to only the main opposition party in the state Congress and not the other parties.
We still stand by our opinion that the Chief Minister’s purported statement about ‘falling from the sky’ was in bad taste. One should not try to justify it by conjuring up the 2012 statement of the then Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ‘Money does not grow on trees’. It is not a case of if Manmohan can say it why take offense to the Chief Minister’s recent statement.
There are other ways of explaining the hike in oil prices and certainly not in ‘falling from the sky’ metaphor. And a word of advice for the ruling BJP. The party was able to come to power in the state by banking on the misrule and misdeeds of the previous Congress regime in 2017 by forging a coalition. Even though the Congress won 28 seats as against BJP’s 21, the writing on the wall was clear and the mandate was against the Congress. But this time, Congress bashing will no longer work as they had their time in power for a full term.