Do eight years and three days make so much difference?
Yes, in the life of the survivors of the 1984 tragedy, it has made a big difference. So much so that they have lost all hopes to get justice. In fact, none of the two major political parties that have locked horns in Madhya Pradesh over the assembly elections cared to mention about the issue in their respective manifestos. Bhopal 1984 has been done and dusted, unlike Babri 1992 which still makes appeal to the people's minds, no matter which side of the secular polity they are located.
According to a report published in The New Indian Express on Wednesday, sources in Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, an NGO, said the survivors of the tragedy did all they could do to make it a political issue but for the political class, the issue doesn't have much importance today.
A lot of excitement is being found in the country's political circles since the elevation of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi in their respective parties. Both camps have been bolstered by the fresh leaders at the top, whether official or unofficial. In a state like MP, the current election is being projected as an intense fight between Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Congress's Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Modi and Rahul Gandhi, too, have addressed a number of rallies in the state. In September, Modi and other premier leaders of the BJP even addressed a massive workers' rally in Bhopal. But how many of these rallies have seen an extensive discussion on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984? Gandhi, on the other hand, was often heard speaking in favour of the poor and the UPA government's effort towards their uplift. But no mention of Bhopal tragedy anywhere even in this peak election season?
The NGO has accused both the national parties of forgetting the plight of the survivors . , the report said. Of the 29 years since the tragedy, the Congress has ruled for 14 years while the BJP has been in power for 15 years but the condition of the victims battling for justice hasn't changed a bit. The survivors have a number of demands, including revision of the death toll (which some say is more than 25,000), action against the Union Carbide officials, cleaning up of toxic contamination in the state capital and allocation of funds for the survivors' rehabilitation. Have any top leader spoken up for these apart from a few routine expressions of regret?
The survivors felt that the government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, considered one of the best chief ministers in the country, also let them down for it did not work on the welfare promises that it had made. They reportedly failed to even meet Chouhan to bring their never-ending plight to his notice.
So what does it mean for those poor souls? They reside in a state which is known to be one of the fast-developing ones in India and is led by a dynamic chief minister and has recently gone to the polls. Yet, neither the politicians nor the TRP-hungry media felt interested to highlight their case.
December 6 is a more convenient date our political pundits to celebrate for it has a never-ending benefit to offer, which is to showcase their respective cases as secular or communal before the voters. And the media experts run after them for a reflected glory. December 3, on the other hand, is just a dry history which has got exhausted with time.