Baseless rumours can be more damaging than real setbacks. Gopinath Munde’s death has led to a spate of rumours fueled by coincidental events. Munde was the tallest BJP mass leader in Maharashtra. Nitin Gadkari was the number two. After Munde’s death in a road accident Prime Minister Modi gave additional charge of Munde’s cabinet portfolio to Gadkari. In the circumstances it was the logical decision. Gadkari is the known favourite of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. Munde had excellent relations with Udhav Thackeray. Gadkari had close relations with Raj Thackeray. The Thackeray cousins are at loggerheads. That placed Munde and Gadkari in different camps within Maharashtra politics.
Police are investigating the road accident in which Munde died due to internal injuries but no other occupant of either car suffered injury. Preliminary investigation after studying the skid marks of both cars rules out foul play. However the drivers of both cars gave conflicting versions of how the accident occurred. By coincidence in violation of accepted norms the driver of Munde’s car was not from the government pool of drivers assigned for VIP duty. He was an ad hoc recruit from a private agency. By a coincidence shortly afterwards another car dashed into the convoy escorting RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. There is no evidence to suggest any connection between the two collisions. Road accidents are rife on the streets of Delhi. But the timing has sparked all kinds of baseless rumours.
When BJP leaders attended the five lakhs strong crowd of mourners at Munde’s funeral, some people pelted stones at the car carrying Gadkari. Gadkari was at pains telling the media that he accepted a cabinet post only after insisting that Munde also be made a cabinet minister, even though Munde was slated to be the chief ministerial candidate of BJP in the forthcoming assembly polls. With Munde’s death fortunes now in the assembly polls may altogether change. Some supporters of Munde have demanded a probe into the accident that killed Munde. Others are drawing unfounded conclusions from the timing of the accident involving Mohan Bhagwat’s motor convoy.
This kind of rumour mongering and speculation should be nipped in the bud. It can damage the reputation and the atmosphere of the nation. Rape cases in UP have already invited international censure to damage India’s investment potential. The police are doing their job. People should appreciate that we are living in democratic India, however inefficient it may sometimes be. We are not living in Stalin’s totalitarian Russia. One recalls a joke related to Russia of Stalin’s era.
Two Russians met in the street.
One said: “Boris, I meant to phone you! Please accept my condolences for your uncle’s death in a road accident yesterday!”
Boris replied: “But my uncle is alive, I talked to him this morning!”
The first Russian rubbed his jaw and mumbled: “Oh! Sorry, I must have made a mistake. Your uncle will die in a road accident tomorrow!”