Victims of Patronage Politics

Victims of Patronage Politics
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The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday overturned a claim of 281 persons who called themselves need-based casual labourers in the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Division, Handwara, by dismissing their petition with a view that no concrete evidence had been produced before court to believe that they were working as need-based wagers. While the court is right and correct in terms of lack of evidence in arriving at its judgment, but the affected persons in contention are actually victims for no fault of their own. This is not to put the blame on the court which works on the basis of evidence, proof and so in delivering verdicts but those who led these “need based contractual workers” up the primrose path, so to speak. These workers , in their legitimate quest for gainful employment appear to be, in the final analysis, victims of patronage politics, which not only rests on a dubious premise but also, on very cynical grounds. If a scenario can be drawn here, then the dynamic or the whole saga appears to correspond to the following: desperate unemployed people approached or are approached by some members of the political classes and , in return for political support, especially votes, are promised employment. Members of the administration , eager to please and ingratiate political bosses , play dumb and agree, in theory to employ these needy people with a vague promise that, at some point in time, they will be permanently employed. But, often times, these dubious promises do not translate into reality. When reality bites and when these people run pillar to post to get “regularized” but nothing happens , they sometimes turn to the courts for relief and a judgment favouring them. But , as in the case in contention, courts work on evidence which invariably is not available. The onus and consequences of somebody’s cynicism and manoeuvrings thereof falls on these poor and needy people who are dealt a double blow for no fault of theirs. This odious and unethical practice must then be immediately stopped. The real culprit, to repeat, is patronage politics which seems to have become rather thematic here. Rigorous ethical and prudential efforts must be designed to prevent and check abuse which impinges negatively on the welfare of people, especially the most vulnerable and underprivileged segments of society whose dreams and aspirations are shattered by unscrupulous operators and cynical players.

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