The Constitution Day this year on November 26 turned out to be a bit of a farce with two of the three eminent speakers in Parliament, namely President Ramnath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, having wilfully subverted the Constitution barely three days before in Maharashtra.
There were two other actors in the sordid drama, Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. But thankfully Parliament was spared sermons from them on the virtues of our Constitution and our obligations to it.
A Prime Minister, who arbitrarily junked a cabinet decision in the dead of the night, directed the President to revoke President’s rule in Maharashtra and commanded Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari to swear in BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister and Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM at the crack of dawn, lectured us instead on the Constitution and spoke of the citizens’ duties rather than their ‘Rights’.
The Prime Minister scrupulously avoided any mention of the state’s obligation to the citizens and to the Constitution, or his and his cabinet colleagues’ and MPs’ duties to serve as custodians of the Constitution and to the people of India. He also ignored the Preamble to the Constitution, which reads:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
The gumption of lecturing us on our duties by people who have acted against the Constitution is truly breathtaking. The head of the state and the Government which are brazenly planning to foist a nation-wide NRC, were reminding citizens of their duty to the state. Could they have not spared some time to speak of their duty to the country, citizens and the Constitution?
The PM has publicly and proudly claimed credit for having torn the Constitution to shreds by nonchalantly scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution with the flick of his finger and ensuring that the Supreme Court too entertain neither a petition challenging this travesty of the Constitution nor the most blatant unconstitutional act of suppressing the right to life and liberty of the people of Kashmir.
The Prime Minister, who had abused the Nationalist Congress Party while campaigning, praised it in Parliament. He lost no time in tweeting his congratulatory message to Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar after installing them in a questionable manner. It was even more brazen when within 24 hours, a clean chit was issued to Ajit Pawar, who, BJP leaders had claimed, would be in prison after the election.
The Constituent assembly had debated at length the issue of corruption by members of Parliament including ministers and even the presiding officers of the Houses on May 19 and June 7, 1949 to ensure a corruption free political leadership and judiciary.
If only the President or the Prime Minister had read out relevant portions from those debates, instead of reminding us of the law on breaking traffic signals, it would have done them and the people at large a world of good in so far as they might have thought twice before repeating Manipur, Goa, Karnataka or Maharashtra.
Could Jharkhand be next in line?
(The views expressed are the author’s own)