Father vs CM: Riteish Deshmukh’s hurt feelings over Piyush Goyal’s charge is understandable. But his retort is not

To charge the late Vilasrao Deshmukh with unthinking behaviour by taking Bollywood personalities to a 26/11-hit site is both understandable. And necessary.

 |  3-minute read |   14-05-2019
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It was a time when India had become accustomed to terror attacks, with bombs going off in busy bazaars, outside cinema halls, local trains and even hotels. Each act of terror found the administration napping with zero preparedness to preempt attacks or bring the guilty to justice once the attacks happened.

The Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, which saw India’s financial capital under siege from November 26 to November 29, acted as the tipping point of public anger. People were not just angry over the terrorists who carried out the brutal attacks, and their handlers sitting in Pakistan — but with their own government too.

They were angry because 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) could just walk into the country, undetected, and kill at will 166 people.

They were angry because they found then-Union home minister Shivraj V Patil raiding his wardrobe for clothes suited to face TV cameras to brief the nation.

They were angry because when it all ended, they found then-chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh reach the Taj Hotel to take stock of the situation — with his actor son Riteish and Bollywood director Ram Gopal Varma.  

rgv-690_051419124508.jpgIt still stands out: Film director Ram Gopal Varma and actor Riteish Deshmukh at Taj Hotel after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. (Source: Twitter)

Eleven years later, Ritiesh says BJP leader Piyush Goyal raking up the issue is a disservice to his late father, who is not there to defend himself today. A son’s pain at finding his father’s image tarnished is understandable. But Ritiesh must know his father was a chief minister, a political leader, a figure in public life.

As a former administrative head of a state, his career is open to criticism. His legacy is open to assessment.

Even today, schools, colleges and roads named after Deshmukh do exist in Maharashtra. As a son, Ritiesh may only want to keep the good memories with him, but as a political leader, Vilasrao’s professional life and legacy is naturally open to scrutiny that includes the good, the bad and the ugly around him.

It is important to remember these chapters of history — so that nobody repeats them.

Many sons and many daughters lost their fathers in that attack — just like that.

Those fathers can’t demand answers today. But those sons must know their pain hasn’t been forgotten.

It was callous of Vilasrao to visit the terror site with a film director. In politics, optics matter and the fact is, Vilasrao created bad optics that day.

Vilasrao died in 2002. Ritiesh says, had he been alive, he would have responded to Goyal. Perhaps, perhaps not. We don't know. What we do know is that it is only human for Ritiesh to feel hurt, following a charge on his late father.

Perhaps it would help to see him as CM in this regard.

After all, Vilasrao was at the Taj that day as the chief minister.

Also read: Silence is Golden! Navjot Singh Sidhu’s vocal chords are reportedly damaged. Is it Karma doing its job?


Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is the former Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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