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Mobocracy To Derail Democracy

Mobocracy To Derail Democracy

BJP President Amit Shah’s statement that the Supreme Court (SC) should not pass judgements that cannot be implemented, and his declaration of BJP’s full support to the groups indulging in violence to prevent the Kerala government from implementing the verdict of SC, is nothing but an open invitation to anarchy. At a function in Kannur in Kerala, Amit Shah said that the government and the courts should give orders that could be implemented. “They should not give orders that work to break the faith of the people”, he added. He had come out in support of Ayyappa devotees, who have been protesting against the state government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple.

Opposition leaders have come down heavily on Amit Shah for his irresponsible and provocative statement. Bahujan Samajwadi Party President, Mayawati, urged the SC to take cognisance of BJP Chief’s comment and take action against him.

The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarai Vijayan, said, "The remarks of BJP President Amit Shah in Kannur are an attack on Supreme Court, Indian Constitution and our judicial system. BJP president's assertion that courts must pronounce only verdicts which could be carried out conveys the message that fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution are not meant to be implemented. These statements of Shah also reveal the true colour of RSS and Sangh Parivar." He also challenged the threat of Amit Shah to pull down the LDF government on Sabarimala issue. “This Government did not come to power at the mercy of BJP but with the support of the people of this state" said Vijayan.

Describing Shah’s remarks as ‘uninformed and trivial’, the Congress spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singvi said that the BJP has been ‘decimating’ and diluting institutions to further its interests.

CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat, in a write up titled “ Amit Shah's Blatant Defiance of Supreme Court Order” in NDTV News, lambasted Shah and the BJP RSS combine for undermining the institutions and the constitution of India. According to her, this is a warning to the SC regarding the Ayodhya issue on which the SC will start hearing in January 2019. “Is this an ‘advance’ ominous warning to the apex court: do as we want or face the consequences of your orders being flouted,” she wrote. “Since the BJP president is against the judgement of the Supreme Court, why does he not go to the Supreme Court in a review? Instead, when the president of the ruling party incites violence against a court judgement and against a government led by an opposition party which upholds the court judgement, is this not the real face of authoritarianism,”  she asked.

Our political leaders often think that democracy is winning elections and holding on to power once elected to form the government. They try to hoodwink the voters by indulging in promises that can never be implemented and playing communal and caste cards. Instead of uniting people they divide people. The BJP has proved to be adept in playing the communal politics. Amit Shah is replicating in Kerala the strategy of communal polarization to get a foothold in Kerala politics. His open defiance of the SC verdict on Sabarimala is a trick to polarize the Hindu votes in favour of the BJP. 

As per the constitution of India, the three pillars of the state are legislature (elected representatives) executive and judiciary. Balance of power among these three pillars is vital to the proper functioning of democracy. Media is often considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. Hence any effort to muzzle the freedom of the media is detrimental to democracy. There are other institutions like Election Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Controller and Auditor General (CAG), which are vital for the right functioning of democracy. Independent functioning of these institutions or constitutional bodies without the interference of the government in power is essential for the survival of democracy in India.

The executive (the government in power) has always a tendency to control the other constitutional bodies and institutions. It had happened in the past and it is happening now also. Ever since the BJP came to power at the centre with absolute majority in 2014 there have been attempts to weaken or interfere in the functioning of the constitutional bodies.

The judiciary has a pivotal role in preserving and strengthening democracy. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to protect the rights of the citizens when the rights encroached by the executive. The citizens approach the judiciary when the legislature makes a law that violates their rights. The judiciary also has the power to declare null and void any law made by the parliament or state legislature if it is not in congruence with the fundamental principles of the constitution. In January this year four senior most judges of the Supreme Court addressed a press conference and aired their views against the perceived interference of the government in the functioning of the judiciary. “Unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country,” Justice Chelameswar said. He also said that it was “extremely painful to hold the press conference in such a manner”. The four judges resorted to an extreme step to preserve the independence of judiciary which is very crucial to the survival of democracy.

In the history of independent India, at times the governments failed to implement the decisions of the judiciary because of their connivance for feeding to the sentiments of the crowd or a particular community for creating vote bank. The BJP government in UP did not protect the Babri Masjid from being demolished by the Hindutva fanatics in spite of the assurance given to the SC that the structure will be protected. The central government under Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, was sleeping when Babri Masjid was brought to the ground by a Hindutva mob.

The Congress government under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi overturned the then Supreme Court's verdict in the Shah Bano case. Shah Bano, a Muslim mother of five children, was divorced by her husband in 1978. She filed a criminal suit in which the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and she won the right to alimony from her husband. However, the then Congress government enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. The most controversial provision of the Act was that it gave a Muslim woman the right to maintenance for the period of iddat (about three months) after the divorce, and shifted the onus of maintaining her to her relatives or the Wakf Board. The Act was seen as discriminatory, as it denied divorced Muslim women the right to basic maintenance which women of other faiths had recourse to under the secular law. In fact, it was the Congress that started the process of undermining the authority of the Supreme Court by overturning its verdict in the Shah Bano case.

Narendra Modi government is accused by the opposition parities of weakening the Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation. It is reported in media that the relationship between the RBI and the government worsened ever since RBI published the facts about demonetization. The midnight drama of shunting CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Vinod Asthana and the appointment of an interim Director was something unprecedented in the history of independent India. The Special Director of the CBI was appointed to that post ignoring all protests by the director. The credibility of the premier investigating agency is at the lowest ebb due to the interference of the government.

The RSS, the ideological parent of BJP, is bent upon converting India into a Hindu Rashtra. It had opposed tooth and nail the adoption of the present secular democratic constitution. It had recommended a constitution based on the exclusive, discriminatory, hierarchical and patriarchal Manusmriti. Various policies and actions of the BJP and the BJP led central and state governments have been designed in view of weakening democracy and undermining the secular democratic constitution of India. Mobilization of people against the verdict of the Supreme Court, the strongest pillar of democracy, and encouraging mobocracy is nothing but a calculated move to weaken democracy and replace it with Hindutva.

(jacobpt48@gmail.com)

(Published on 05th November 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 45)