Why Nitish Kumar shouldn't have interfered in Bengal gangrape case

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WB gangrape
The shocking death of a 16-year-old girl, who was gangraped twice and socially humiliated, and the politics over her body is perhaps the lowest point in the history of West Bengal. But what was even more shocking was the reaction of the government of Bihar after the death of the girl who belonged to that state. The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for the family of the victim and also offered help in the probe into the case.

Compensation or show of pre-poll urgency?

What example has this move by Nitish Kumar set up? Certainly not a positive one. First, he indulged in a cheap populism by announcing compensation for the family of the dead girl. This was required for Kumar, who is not having the best of days in politics nowadays.

What was the purpose of Nitish Kumar in interfering in the gangrape case probe?

The victim belonged to Samastipur, which is home to extremely backward classes and Mahadalit population and the JD(U) chief minister felt the urgency to address a critical constituency ahead of the prestigious Lok Sabha polls due in some months. But will such action help the political prospects of a worried Nitish Kumar? Till now, his 'sympathy' for a 'daughter of Bihar' has only been criticised for its obvious political purpose.

Posing a threat to federal spirit

Nitish Kumar's act has a second folly too. By offering a help in the probe, the Bihar chief minister has not only insulted the West Bengal government but also set up a bad precedent for the country's federal structure. Any state is responsible for the people residing within its territory, whether local or outsiders.

If it fails to protect people from other states, then the concerned state must raise a protest through proper channels and not directly intervene in the official functioning. By sending an investigating officer to West Bengal for fact-finding in the gangrape case, the Bihar government expressed its lack of confidence in the working of its neighbour and set up a bad example. Even the Centre can not intervene in the functioning of any state without following a proper procedure. This is against the spirit of the federalism.

States are more assertive today but should they become aggressive?

A number of regional leaders in India today do not care to abide by the spirit of mutual respect. They attack other state governments and even the Centre in a harsh manner, hence posing a threat to the bonding of the Indian Union. Chief ministers of states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have been found launching scathing attack on the Centre and even the prime minister for political reasons. While at other times, chief ministers are seen locking horns over political issues.

This is an inevitable consequence of India's deepening democracy (political and economic). The spirit of the process is not a worry. The actual worry is: Whether we should get carried away with the 'deepening democracy' and undermine the very essence of our federal democracy.

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