Are India's politicians anything more than gang bosses?

The minister involved in the following shameful story, is Uma Shankar Gupta. Readers of this column have met him before. He is the politician who presided over the botched “clean-up” of the factory where barefoot women and children with brooms were sent into warehouses full of DDT and Lindane. His men it was who raised a cloud of toxic dust that poisoned hundreds. He is it whose followers celebrated his birthday with a cake weighing 53 kilograms and the longest flower garland in history. Now read on.
Bhopal, Sept. 17: A Madhya Pradesh minister got beaten up at an Uttar Pradesh railway station as the two states’ ruling parties used muscle power on their home turfs to settle a quarrel that began on a train.
BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh’s state transport minister, Umashankar Gupta, allegedly started the trouble by forcing Samajwadi Party leader Chandrapal Yadav off his air-conditioned coach on the Punjab Mail yesterday. This happened when the train, 2137 Down from Mumbai, was at Bina, Madhya Pradesh.
Yadav, a close associate of Samajwadi Party’s Jhansi MP Chatrapal Yadav, warned the minister he would avenge his humiliation. Within minutes, he was on his mobile, arranging for the minister’s entourage to be “welcomed” in Uttar Pradesh.
As the train chugged ahead and entered Yadav’s home state, Samajwadi Party activists gathered in large numbers at Lalitpur and Bijoli stations.
A police bandobast prevented trouble at Lalitpur but a determined mob forced the train to make an unscheduled stop at Bijoli, 14 km from Jhansi.
A shower of bullets and stones cowed down the minister’s security sufficiently for the Samajwadi Party goons to enter the coach. Gupta’s family slid below the seats to save themselves, but the minister had his honour and ego bruised with several punches and blows landing on him.
Gupta’s companions quickly herded him and his family into another coach but the minister’s security guard, personal secretary and a few others in the group had to be admitted to a local hospital.
Altogether, about a dozen people were injured. Seema Singh, a passenger from Mumbai, was hit by a bullet and her husband and a Government Railway Police (GRP) constable suffered shrapnel wounds.
As news reached Bhopal, it was the BJP’s turn to show its might. An angry mob ransacked the state Samajwadi Party office, burning furniture, posters, banners and whatever else it could lay its hands on. The police arrived but chose not to act.
Today, when the Samajwadi Party rushed to the Madhya Pradesh governor seeking Gupta’s dismissal, local police filed an FIR against unnamed persons for rioting, arson and trespassing.
Gupta and his family were travelling from Bhopal for his daughter’s engagement ceremony in Gwalior. Both are in Madhya Pradesh but the route passes through a stretch of Uttar Pradesh.
After the Guptas climbed into their AC coach, the minister accused fellow passenger Yadav, who had boarded from Mumbai, of misbehaviour. Soon, a quarrel began.
Yadav later managed to catch the Jhelam Express with the help of the local administration at Bina.
But his threats of revenge had already got a worried Gupta to spend the next half an hour on his mobile, talking to the Madhya Pradesh director-general of police and other authorities.

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