Constitutional democracy is in peril, defend it with all your might

The burden of protecting constitutional democracy and sanity of the electoral process now lies solely with the voters

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Ubaidullah Nasir

Since 2014, after its landslide victory in the parliamentary election, the BJP’s lust for power has been increasing with every passing day. It won many state Assembly elections and where it could not win, it masterminded defection among the ranks of the winning party, mainly the Congress and converted its defeat into victory. Everything is fair in war and love but the BJP has added politics into this age-old proverb. It used every possible weapon in its command to convert defeat into victory. Both money and muscle power were unscrupulously used. Adherence to constitutional obligations in its words and spirit, political decency, morality and ethics have no place in the BJP’s scheme of things. Only victory matters. Not only the spirit of the Constitution has ben compromised but constitutional institutions including the judiciary have become mere paper tigers. Name any constitutional institution meant to safe guard and work as a watch dog for democracy, it has been filled with people of a definite ideology and all are working in tandem to shape the country according to the nearly-century-old RSS dream of turning India into a Hindu rashtra.

Remember from Goa to the northeast and from Karnataka to MP, how BJP has converted its defeat in Assembly elections into victory by engineering defection in rival parties. See how first the opposition MLAs were lured with money and were scared by investigative agencies like the police, the CBI, the IT department and the ED, etc. They are made to resign thus bringing down the strength of the house where the BJP becomes the single largest party and even get majority. Then, these defectors are made ministers. The harsh fact is the BJP doesn’t purchase MLAs but actually purchases popular mandate, thus insulting the voters’ choice.

Under this system, a day may come when elections will become useless and governments will be formed just by purchasing MLAs. At this juncture, it was expected that the judiciary will come forward and strongly defend the electoral process and the spirit of the Constitution but unfortunately that has not been the case. For example, in Karnataka, the defector MLAs lost their membership under the anti-defection law but were allowed to re-contest in violation of the anti-defection law which says that defectors will be barred from contesting elections for six years. In MP too, the same game was repeated with the help of Congress turn coat Jyotiraditya Scindia. Defectors are made ministers in the MP cabinet and party loyalist BJP legislators are licking their wounds. Scindia too became a Rajya sabha MP and may become a Union Minister shortly. The BJP may say that it has done nothing and all the apples fell in its basket on their own but “yeh public hai sab janti hai (Public knows everything).”

The same game is now being played in Rajasthan. Deputy Chief Minister and former state Congress president Sachin Pilot, with his 18 legislator friends, raised the banner of revolt against his own government. But Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot proved that Sachin may be Scindia but he is no Kamal Nath. He used the BJP’s own methods to thwart their game plan. Phones of a dissident Congress MLA and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat were tapped and the conversation between the two was made public in which the conspiracy to topple the government became clear.The matter was handed over to the Special Operations Group of Rajasthan Police to probe.Though Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is denying that it is not his voice in the tape but he is refusing to give voice sample for verification. Secondly, Sachin failed to cobble the necessary numbers of defecting MLAs. He has just 18 MLAs with him. The BJP, with this strength, is not in a position to form a government. Ashok Gehlot is in comfortable majority and is requesting the Governor to call the Assembly session so that he can prove the majority on the floor of the house but the Governor is not obliging him. Speaker PC Joshi has issued a notice to the Sachin group to explain his conduct but the matter has reached the Supreme Court via High Court and has again come back to the High Court which has ordered status quo till July 27. The natural question is that if the Speaker has not taken any action against the Sachin group, what has been stayed?

There is no denying the fact that both in MP and Rajasthan, the banner of revolt has been raised by the Congress’ own young leaders. But there is also no denying the fact that both of them have got so much from their party in such a short span of time and at such a young age. They became MPs, then Union Ministers, CWC members, state party chiefs, Deputy CM, etc. Still they say they were not getting respect and importance. Is this not laughable? If they think they will become BJP CMs or the PM, they are living in a fool’s paradise, Both those top posts are reserved for RSS cadres. They should see that from Haryana’s Chaudhary Birendra Singh to Assam’s Hemant Biswal Sarrma, none of their dream of becoming the Chief Minister has come true.

When every defector in these states is made a minister and is awarded a party ticket in bye elections, who is going believe BJP’s claims that it has nothing to do with internal bickering, dissent and defection in the Congress. With abundance of money and the state’s coercive power in its hands, it is hijacking popular mandates, thus threatening the very foundation of our democracy. From vulgar display of money power to manipulating election to engineering defection, the BJP is shaking the very root of our constitutional democracy. All hopes from the judiciary to protect the Constitution have been shattered. The media, supposed to be the watch dog, has lost its teeth and become pliant. The burden of protecting constitutional democracy and sanity of the electoral process now lies solely with the voters. If they want constitutional democracy to survive, they have to be vigilant. They should not allow their mandate to be hijacked like this. They can easily do it, by refusing to vote on the basis of religion and caste. If they reject defectors in the bye elections, this malice can be wiped out. Otherwise, no matter what strict laws are enacted against defection and horse trading, cunning politicians will always find an escape route.

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