As if woken up from a deep slumber, the government of late has announced a slew of ‘reforms’ including controversial moves such as allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, hiking diesel prices and reducing supply of subsidized LPG.
It went in for a cabinet reshuffle, drafting several senior ministers for party work in a mini Kamraj Plan style operation, held a mammoth show of strength in the national capital, organized an introspection camp for party leaders and announced Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as the head of the coordination panel for the 2012 elections.
Coming on the eve of the Lok Sabha session, Kasab’s hanging has softened public resentment against the government and blunted the opposition’s attack strategy. Senior opposition leaders were left with no option but to welcome and praise the government’s decision.
Bombarded day in and day out with reports surfacing about one scam after another and skyrocketing prices, Kasab’s hanging has given a sense of jubiliation to the people who were yearning for some real good news for a long time now, with the exception of an occasional cricket victory.
War mongering or war has often been a diversionary tactic for unpopular regimes. In India too, wars and display of military strength, ranging from Pokhran to Bangladesh War and Kargil conflict, have been used by successive governments to win popular support. In a country where a victory over Pakistan matters more than a world cup win, the execution of a Pakistani terrorist would certainly fetch the government the much needed ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ (seven murders condoned).
With one stroke, the state government has apparently halted the upsurge of Hindu nationalist sentiments and sympathies post-Thackeray in favour of the Sena. Both the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan and his deputy R R Patil were quick to hold press conferences and take credit for the same, which is not routine in other death sentences.
While Narendra Modi continues to have an edge over the Congress in Gujarat, the party has now got material to fight back the strongman on charges of not being pro-active on the anti-terror front.
At the national level too, Kasab’s hanging has given the UPA an opportunity to counter the allegations of not firmly handling terrorism.
Whatever may have been the government’s motive, it deserves credit for keeping the operation under wraps, as otherwise, it would have resulted in a media circus, with human rights wallas (activists) arguing forcefully on television channels against capital punishment and some even holding a candle light vigil, offending national sensibilities.
With the opposition in a disarray and plagued by corruption charges, lack of coordination, factionalism and internal bickering, the UPA has struck at the right time. Indeed, a masterstroke!