The city was on edge yesterday as the mood oscillated between fear, frustration and resignation. Never has Mumbai been thrown into so much doubt about a political figure’s health. With Bal Thackeray’s condition precarious, rumours flew fast and thick, with the common man paying a heavy price for this confusion.
In the absence of one strong, definite statement about his health condition, a single spokesman who would put all doubts to rest, the city was virtually paralysed and festivities went flying out of the window as fear prevailed.
In the age of social networking and quick-as-lightning communications, it takes just one rumour to ignite and spark into a blaze. It is more important than ever for just one spokesman to speak with clarity on he situation. However deep the anguish, there can be no justification for inconveniencing millions of people with mixed messages. The constant dithering, the backtracking put the city into a spin and rumours only compounded the chaos.
During Atal Behari Vajpayee’s knee operation there was one voice updating the media about his health. It was the same when PM Manmohan Singh was being treated, even when Pramod Mahajan lay in hospital. So it is the world over.
Given the stature of Bal Thackeray, the current uncertainty has thrown life out of gear. It is to prevent such problems that a clear declaration in one voice is necessary. It would have prevented petrified Mumbaikars from staying away from work, and let services like public transport run smoothly. In this case, services were skeletal, with wary auto drivers and cabbies staying off the roads in many parts of the city.
Till late as last evening, a slew of spokespersons and leaders were giving conflicting updates. A totally unnecessary state of affairs was created which could have been avoided, with just one official spokesperson clearing the air.