Friday, 12 December 2008

An Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Rahul
It was nice to read about your speech in Parliament on the terrorism issue. Specifically your bemoaning the over-tight security for VIPs, and the near-absent security for ordinary persons. You are probably the only politician to have raised this issue and hats off to you for that.
But, Rahul, merely lamenting this is not enough. You have to walk the talk. This is a subject I had dealt with in an earlier post. I will not begrudge you your security. Your family has seen two assassinations, you belong to an important political family which deserves protection from the state. I am not even remotely suggesting that your security cover be withdrawn.
But can a start be made by listening to security forces who say that a large number of VIPs getting SPG and other protection don’t need it? Can our politicians stop letting their ego get in the way of a revamp of the security system? Can governments stop using SPG cover as a bargaining chip for support ( I refer obviously to Amar Singh’s security being stepped up after the Samajwadi Party bailed the government out on the trust vote)? It’s bad enough that the man is getting that security at all.
Some of this may be out of your hands. But can you start within the Congress by getting the government to withdraw SPG cover to people accused of leading rioters during the 1984 riots? And a whole lot of others who don’t deserve any security, let alone SPG security? You are the Gandhi family scion, but if you give an indication, the fawning Congressmen will fall in line.
Even within your family, you can make a start. All of you, including your brother-in-law, are exempt from frisking. Make a gesture and subject yourself to frisking. No, you are not a potential terror threat, but then nor are millions of us who are subject to frisking. If you take that initiative, minions like Anand Sharma who throw tantrums at being frisked, will hopefully get the message and behave more responsibly.
Maybe then you (and other young MPs, many of whom seem quite responsible) can go and make your point to elders like Somnath Chatterjee, who refused to go to countries on official trips unless he is assured that he will not be frisked. Tell him that sends out a wrong message and only increases resentment towards politicians.
So next time you get on to a flight, or attend a public function where people are being frisked, go stand in the line, Rahul (along with your security guards, of course) and get frisked. There will be people (mostly fawning Congressmen) who will be aghast at the idea. People will make you jump the queue and get you frisked (perfunctorily, of course) before others. But it is for you to stand firm and say if the life of every Indian is precious, I should not get special treatment beyond a certain point.
As a certain group on Facebook is titled, Be the Change. You will endear yourself to all Indians much more.
Give it a thought.

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