The Opposition was right in staying out of the joint session of parliament when the Maharashtra governor was inviting criticism for disrespecting the Constitution by openly displaying bias in favour of the ruling party and aiding in its futile efforts to come to power without the numbers.
The BJP, however, shows no regrets or remorse for its assault on the Constitution. It is a highly condemnable double-speak when the BJP leaders quote the Constitution to give false and misleading assurances about the ‘secular’ character of the country. Nobody who has listened to the BJP and other Sangh Parivar leaders will believe that the Constitution will be faithfully followed in letter and spirit by the current ruling dispensation.
Not only the prime minister and the governor but even the President appears to have been complicit in bypassing the Constitution in Maharashtra. The President of India gladly allowed his sleep to be disturbed through the night to sign a proclamation revoking the President’s rule in the state that had come to him without the prime minister following the due process. But we have a prime minister who will not be bothered by the Constitution or even healthy norms to bypass the cabinet. He has no qualms when it means helping a ‘crony’ industrialist with a lucrative deal or helping the installation of a BJP government.
The media, ever looking for catchy headlines, declared that the ‘Chanakya’ of the BJP had been felled by a forgotten Chanakya-the old warhorse Sharad Pawar of the NCP. The BJP president and union home minister, Amit Shah, had apparently exhausted his ‘bag’ of tricks, enriched by electoral bonds. Even poaching in the Pawar family did not help in installing a BJP government.
A statement by a union minister belonging to Karnataka, made two or three years ago, that the BJP would rewrite the Constitution had invited criticism from the Opposition as well as the civil society. But it made no impression on the ruling dispensation. The BJP by then had made it clear through its words as also actions that it had little respect for the Constitution adopted 70 years ago on November 26. The respect that the saffron party shows for Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, is an exercise in hypocrisy in which the party excels.
With virtually no prominent figure from the Sangh Parivar counted among the stalwarts of the Freedom Struggle, the BJP’s sole aim to eulogise Ambedkar—and some other figures of that era mostly belonging to the Congress—is to create an illusion. It works against much of what Gandhi, Patel, Ambedkar and others stood for but it wants to appropriate them to gain ipso facto recognition of contribution to the Freedom Struggle.
In its rule of a little over five years, the BJP has been ruthless and shameless in showing disrespect to the Constitution. It started almost on day one in 2014 when upon being appointed prime minister, Narendra Modi used the Ordinance route to appoint two retired bureaucrats of his choice as his principle aides. Then followed a not so subtle arm twisting of governors appointed by the previous Congress-led UPA, sacking them and forcing the recalcitrant ones to resign to make way for sending hardcore ‘Sanghis’ to Raj Bhavans. The message that the BJP was sending was that governors need to further the interest of the ruling party. The Constitution was wrong in expecting them to stay clear of politics.
At least in one case, this device of pitchforking partisan politicians into sprawling mansions in state capitals helped His Excellency from evading possible summons in a criminal case that has remained more or less grounded since the time the crime was committed in December 1992.
The Sanghi governors, while enjoying a life of pomp and show, have not faltered in watching the interest of the ruling party. They ignore people’s mandate to invite the BJP to form governments despite its obvious lack of numbers. The BJP sees nothing immoral in it but questions other parties when they form an alliance against it. Under the watch of the governors no law can stand in the way of doing something that would be deemed illegal as long as it is in the interest of the ruling party.
The devotion and the capacity to be on duty virtually 24x7 of the BJP-appointed governors has been enviable. They stay up late at night to facilitate the process of forming BJP governments. The governors show exemplary patience when the ruling party seeks days and weeks to entice enough members of rival parties to make up the numbers to form the government.
And yet, the governors like many other persons occupying his positions swear by the Constitution.
(The views expressed are the author’s own)