- Maharashtra Dy CM R R Patil was on TV saying that incidents of this kind were bound to happen in a large city like Mumbai. Maybe. But that's not what you say in times such as these.
- Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh took his two sons and film director Ram Gopal Verma to inspect the carnage at the Taj. Nothing wrong with that, he said. In normal times, yes. Trouble is that today the Taj is not exactly a picnic spot.
- BJP General Secretary Abbas Naqvi talked of women "in lipstick and powder" taking to the streets to display their anger against politicians. He has a point but, again, timing is the issue.
- Kerala CM Achuthanandan had some caustic remarks to make about Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father for the lack of courtesy he showed when the CM came calling. The CM has reason to feel upset but one has to make allowances for the father's terrible state.
They have questions. Why have the NSG only in Delhi, why not in other cities? Why did it take so long for the NSG to be transported from Delhi? Why can't we give better equipment to police? Why can't we have better coordination among intelligence agencies?
It was left to Mani Shankar Aiyar to point out drily in a TV programme that while many people might be asking these questions in the wake of the attack, these are questions that agencies in government are grappling with all the time. Given competing demands on scarce resources, a determination has to be made as to what is appropriate. The state of the security apparatus reflects the determination that has been made.
Tomorrow, somebody might ask: why NSG only in the four metros? Why not in 20 other cities? There could be perfectly valid operational reasons. Given the kind of training and equipment they need and the coordination, dispersing them may compromise their operational effectiveness. There are several elite forces in other countries (and elite forces in our own army) that are lodged at one place- presumably for the same reasons. 'Common sense' suggestions are often no more than nonsense- good sense, in professional matters, is unfortunately not all too common.
As for displaying contempt for politicians, this can easily spill over into contempt for the political process. Therein lies a big danger. Because from there to legitimising dictatorship, army rule, a police state is a short step. That would give the glitterati plenty of security and gleaming shopping malls but it would turn 95% of the population into terrorists and hence defeat the basic objective. It is well to remember that the same political system that could not prevent the breach of coastal security this time is the system that gave us the NSG that acquitted itself so creditably.
Let us find ways to strengthen the democratic and political process, not turn outrage over a tragedy to turn into outrage against the political system.