Shivraj Patil loves his wardrobe. There’s nothing wrong with that. TV channels have made an issue about the home minister changing his clothes thrice within four hours on Saturday when the capital was reeling under the shock of serial blasts that killed 30 people.
Did the minister spend more time in front of the mirror or in his ministerial duties? Sure, there is no harm in the home minister staying clean and tidy, as Patil’s deputy, Shakeel Ahmed, argued. In this age of television, Patil knows that clothing matters. But we expect more than a nattily dressed minister in the home office.
Over 4,000 people have died in terror attacks in India since Patil took charge of the home office in 2004. At least a dozen prominent cities have faced terrorist strikes since then.
Delhi has been hit more than once. We are not sure that the Saturday’s attack was the last of its kind. Patil is not to be blamed for the strikes, of course. A host of factors, local and global, are responsible for the frequent terrorist attacks. Security measures have failed to deliver. It’s shocking that most closed-circuit cameras installed in sensitive areas do not work. Intelligence gathering is in a mess. Clearly, a focused and coordinated approach to matters of security is missing. The home ministry was caught unawares when matters in Jammu and Kashmir took a turn for the worse.
The lack of leadership is showing and Patil has to take a large part of the blame. No one wants Patil to do the job of a sleuth or a beat constable. But he is expected to ensure that they do their jobs well. A slew of suggestions to revamp the security apparatus have come up in the past few months. What has his ministry done about it?
There has been talk of setting up a federal agency to counter terrorism. Is the government serious about that? Political consensus on the issue is necessary to make it feasible. Counterterrorism measures call for better use of technology and more coordination between the Centre and state governments. The home ministry needs to show some urgency in these matters.
Patil has had a long innings in the ministry and his expertise is surely not in home affairs. The prime minister should now think of replacing him with someone who has the experience and competence to handle the sensitive ministry.
7 months ago