Another Emergency, now under Modi possible?
L.K.Advani, 87, is no ordinary voice. He is perhaps the senior most BJP leader, next only to Vajpee. Old timers, intellectuals like Jaswant Singh were shunted out unceremonially.
Now, with Mr.Narendra Modi as the all-powerful Prime Minister, with the BJP party and the government under the tight control of him, it is anybody’s guess what is in store for us, the citizens.
As it is, the new storm over the Sushma-Raje discomfiture would blow up more seriously or end up as storm in the proverbial tea cup! In politics anything can happen, big or small. Given the tight run Modi affected for the last one year in office, everyone seemed settled down for a four-year run in the coming days. Now the strong struck. All the heal broke out or is it simply a sign of the Congress, the much maligned defeated party in the 2014 race and now almost dumped in the dustbin to rise up and make hell by calling all sorts of dark deeds on the part of the two otherwise decent ladies.
The allegations might not stick in the short and even medium run, not to speak of the long-term. Modi is comfortably settled with his absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and as such the Congress hasn’t much room for doing any mischief.
The 40th anniversary of the notorious Emergency of 1975 only gave Mr.Advani a chance to speak out and he did so with careful wording. Yes, he said there are signs to say that @forces that can crush democracy have become stronger in India. More also he said that “notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards are stronger” Also,” I don’t think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties are suspended or destroyed again. Not at all”. It could be that fundamental liberties are curtailed again”.
We have to heed what Mr.Advani says and also the timing.
By no stretch of imagination we can, that is citizens can’t take things for granted in a polity, more so when it is a democracy. All democrats or lovers and champions of democracy must know, in fact, they know well that democracy is a fragile political system.
For Indians it must be only too clear or it is the duty of ideas-men and commentators to at least point out, on every opportunity, that even in our first 68 years of Independence that at least once we resorted to Emergency and earned the odium of a failed democracy, right?
Also more important that most of our neighbouring countries failed in the democracy experiment and every other neighbour from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, in other countries too democracy faced turbulence. There were wars and internal rebellions and much more in the last less than two generations. If we look at South East Asia as a whole the democracy issues are more complex. Not to speak of other countries in Middle East and African continent.
In the case of BJP rule now, it is clear that since he took power Mr.Modi had pushed the polity in certain direction. There are signs to show that the institutions under our Constitution are working but at less than what the common people envisaged.
For there is a pervasive fear or apprehension, at least on the part of the middle classes, that this government is resorting to subtle and not so subtle manipulation of the media, the many institutions like the CIC, CVC and also the appointment of such offices like the Directors of IITs, Universities, other bodies like the history and science research bodies.
The Hindutva forces are creating discomfort in education sectors, Democracy seems a bit subdued not vibrant. Open society? Rather it is a bit controlled by several bureaucratic controls.
Many say the PMO has become more obstructive rather than open-mined. The executive, the bureaucracy, seems a bit paralysed.
Yes, the economic sector is being prodded. That is welcome largely by the wider sections. There are of course positive changes in the economic push.
Also, there is realisation that economic growth can’t be ushered in a year or so. It takes time and much patience and persuasion on many levels. Mr.Modi had won much goodwill for Indian from all countries he visited and certainly he had lifted the image and the spirit of the country at many levels.
It is in the sophisticated area of politics, the quality of governance, the open-mindedness of the Prime Minister in a vast and divergent country like India, the PM must be seen as a protector of all sections of opinion.
There is a palpable sign of quiet on the part of the elite and the intellectual community. The media reports, news and comments, both in the print and the electronic media seem quite subdued. Also, the most critical aspect is the nature of the new BJP.Is it a cohesive house or a divided party it started before getting into the power matrix as government formation saw many pulls and pushes.
Advani and many of his once trusted followers diverged, once power brought new relationships and new surrenders!
So, now the old wounds come out and the new and many more uncomfortable past deeds might lead to a new alignment within the party. New factions might build up?
May be in his efforts to tighten his hold on the party and the government or in his own innate manner in which Mr.Modi tries to bring about a new party of his own choice and preferances, Mr.Modi might fight hurdles and obstacles.
The very new judicial reform he has undertaken he might encounter new challenges.
Who knows? One can’t predict too many things. Mr.Advani might have his own prognostications and wisdom to reach out a conclusion that might upset the unsuspected.
But one thing here for Indians of all sections. Democratic norms in India have become compromised for far too long. Even in the Congress rule, the way Sonia Gandhi’s party leadership had brought about a degeneration of democratic norms and institutions.
The distinctions between the party and the government were simply given a go-by and also the PM’s role was completely sabotaged.
Why even in alliance building process, we saw the Congress played its hand. The very many corruption scandals and scams had give rise to a new politics of many black deeds. The electoral corruption reached new heights of immorality.
In short, what Mr.Modi inherited has given him an unsuspected degenerate democratic norms and practices. This is a heavy topic and it is for the great minds, intellectuals, Constitutional experts, why even citizen groups, civil society and others to come out with their own prognosis.
All we have to say her is this: Mr.Modi has to tread his path very carefully.