Last week saw a high voltage hullabaloo by the Central Government and the ruling party leaders. Some went hammer and tongs against Supreme Court of India in the wake of the Sabarimala verdict; some were seen vociferously demanding an ordinance route to a Ram temple at Ayodhya after the apex court deferred the case to January next year for hearing; in between these two temple issues came the ‘midnight strike’ at the Central Bureau of Investigation, leading to a major overhaul in the prime investigating agency of the country. At another level, the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India came out in the open alleging that the government was interfering in the functioning of the central bank of the country.
The Supreme Court, the CBI and the RBI are constitutional bodies and backbones of three different areas. They deserve to be treated in a manner that the fundamentals of governance should not be disturbed. But, the Hindutva leaders, both in the government and the party, are a law unto themselves. Hence BJP chief Amit Shah had no qualms in stating that the apex court should pronounce only those judgements that are implementable. He did not stop there, but went on to issue a stern warning to the democratically elected Kerala government that it could be toppled. The fact that the BJP has just one MLA in the State Assembly means that the party chief’s hint was nothing but a threat to use Article 356 to remove the government.
The abrupt replacement of CBI director Alok Verma was nothing but another instance of highhandedness by the government in getting rid of a top officer who was seen taking decisions unpalatable and problematic for the government. This has happened despite Mr Verma has a two-year fixed term mandated by the Supreme Court. These actions reiterate the public perception that CBI is a caged parrot. The independence and neutrality of the organization have been thoroughly dented.
The third issue of ‘undermining’ the Reserve Bank of India’s independence is equally disturbing. The Deputy Governor Viral Acharya’s remarks that the government is transgressing into the powers of the central bank send out a very disturbing message. Urging the government to back off from such interference, he said: “Governments that do not respect central bank’s independence will sooner or later incur the wrath of the markets, ignite economic fire and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution.” Very strong words that warn the powers-that-be of a serious crisis.
The Modi government is on its last leg. It seems to be in jitters with several opinion polls predicting not a rosy road ahead of it. The charisma of Mr Modi, the one and only thing that the saffron party banks on in the next general elections, is nose-diving. In several States either the Congress or regional parties are on the upswing. The ruling party is looking for issues that could swing the voters. It cannot talk about corruption and black money as it did in the previous general election as the government’s track record is getting muddied day after day. Hence it is trying to catch hold of a straw to stay afloat by resorting to issues that can woo the voters. In the process, the leaders are trampling on constitutional bodies which will have deleterious results in the long run.(Published on 05th November 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 45)