Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Expectations high as Sonia Gandhi visits Malegaon

Malegaon General Hospital to be inaugurated today by Sonia Gandhi

For people of Malegaon, the long and patient nine-year wait is finally over as Sonia Gandhi visits Malegaon to inaugurate newly-constructed Malegaon General Hospital. The dream of a government hospital was envisioned by the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in the aftermath of October 26, 2001 riots. For six years, Vilasrao Deshmukh kept dreaming about the hospital while people of Malegaon stood silently with an empty bowel. The soulful cry of a father that rose from the debris of 2006 cemetery shook the conscience of Mrs. Gandhi. Vilasrao woke up from the deep slumber of indifference and was compelled to implement his six year old dream.

So, what does people are Malegaon expect from Mrs. Gandhi, the political queen of India? People are of course happy and exuberant that Sonia Gandhi is going to visit their historical textile town. They just don’t want Mrs. Gandhi to cut the symbolic red-ribbon and repeat the usual platitudes. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can do that. People want Mrs. Gandhi to do an Obama in Malegaon. Muslim community, who very often feels betrayed by the state government, expects some plain and bold speaking from Mrs. Gandhi. She has to assure the town that the days of state neglect will be over. She has to utter unequivocally that Malegaon occupies a central place in the heart of Congress. She has to acknowledge that people of Malegaon are not very happy with the functioning of her party. The general election result in Malegaon is a testimony of this fact. If Mrs. Gandhi and her party want to conquer and safeguard Muslim votes, then Malegaon is an important bastion to wage the long and arduous battle.

Mrs. Gandhi should know that the feeling of injustice, alienation runs deep in Muslim psyche here. Her party should pick up a magnifying glass and take a hard look at ground realities. The wives of Malegaon bomb blast accused 2006 are desperately waiting for the completion of CBI inquiry. Mrs. Gandhi must use rightful political means to make sure that it doesn’t get delayed anymore. The growing kids of the accused need to know whether their fathers are really “guilty” in the official book.

People of Malegaon expect overall development of Malegaon. Malegaon is a town where the bellies of local politicians are fatter than a newly-built road. People want Mrs. Gandhi to use her political clout to ensure that central government schemes are duly utilised in Malegaon. They want Mrs. Gandhi’s government to treat Malegaon as a special zone for the development. They want colleges and institutes like the ones in Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli. In the last 4 years, Mrs. Gandhi has managed to set up three institutes in her constituency.
People of Malegaon wonder whether it will also get the same kind of treatment which Rae Bareli enjoys where in a single year alone, 250 crores were sanctioned to build roads in and around Rae Bareli. One such another scheme of 313 crore was sanctioned to connect Rae Bareli to Allahabad.

There is a feeling of injustice among Hindu brethren of Malegaon. Some are of the view Malegaon is deliberately ignored because it’s a minority-dominated town. Mrs. Gandhi’s Congress party can prove this presumption false only by concrete action.

The patience of people of Malegaon can be gauged from the fact that their status has always been that of man waiting in a long queue. The wait never seems to get over. We are still waiting for railways promised 25 years ago. It has got the green signal of state government but the actual work is yet to begin.

Is Malegaon a town of waiting?

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi should know the answer.

Inquilab, June 30, 2009

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