Constitution needs protection from both Congress and BJP/RSS
While one had imposed Emergency, the other had refused to respect the country's supreme law and national flag.
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The recently held parliamentary debate on "Commitment to Constitution" saw the two national parties accuse each other of being a threat to the very principles of the Constitution. Union home minister and former BJP president Rajnath Singh said that "socialist" and "secular" were the most misused words in the country and went on to add that "we are facing problems in ensuring social harmony because of the misuse of these expressions".
On the other hand, Congress president Sonia Gandhi claimed that "people who never had faith in the Constitution" were holding a discussion on their commitment towards it. She further argued that "there cannot be a bigger joke than this". Another notable speech was delivered in the Rajya Sabha by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley who drew parallels between Nazi Germany and India under Emergency rule. The lawyer-turned-politician suggested that "dictatorship was at its worst" during the Emergency era.
The fact of the matter is that truth lies in the words of both Sonia and Jaitley. That's precisely the reason why the Constitution needs to be protected from the Indian National Congress as also the Bharatiya Janata Party. Considering the criminalisation of politics and the manner in which political parties tend to behave when in power, it would be appropriate if civil society members as also upright government officials maintained a stern vigil on political parties so as to prevent them from eroding key constitutional provisions.
But special watch would have to be extended to the Congress and BJP simply because of the baggage of history. The Congress has done something in the past which the BJP is most expected to do in contemporary times. Amid all the rhetoric about Hindu Rashtra and cow protection, the dreaded idea which repeatedly hogs the limelight in newspapers and television screens is a gradual but concerted process of turning India into a theocratic state which would eventually result in lesser, diluted or maybe even no freedom for its people.
Except for the Hindutva part, the Congress party did everything that experts expect of the Sangh Parivar today. The citizens of the country were stripped of their fundamental rights and never mind how much Congress sympathisers might romanticise the Emergency era, history keepers would never forgive the Congress for clamping down on personal liberties, muzzling political dissent and censoring the press.
While the Constitution stood for merit based, mass support commanding democracy, Congress has promoted a sort of family-driven dictatorship where chamchagiri or sycophant culture thrives. The virus of family-centric politics has spread to the high command of several parties including Akali Dal, DMK, National Conference, PDP, RJD, Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena. It has taken within its ambit states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu where the electorate have little option except for pinning their hopes on political heirs with an unproven track record.
Such a system of democracy is fraudulent and at the same time humiliating for meritorious leaders who happen to be a part of it. In the run up to the 2009 general elections, then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh said, "I have said Rahul Gandhi has all the qualities a good PM should have. I certainly at some stage would like the seat of power in the hands of younger people than I am." With just five years of experience as a parliamentarian and one or two interventions on the floor of the house, what qualities did Rahul Gandhi amass overnight which prompted Dr Singh to suggest that he'll make a good prime minister?
Had Dr Singh stuck solely to academics, he would have never made such a misleading statement, but being a part of a family-centric political party, he ought to say such things. After all, at the end of the day, he wishes to be in the good books of Gandhi parivar and, therefore, he has to indulge in self humiliation by suggesting that Rahul is more qualified than him to be prime minister, only to be considered to lead the country once again.
Let's now shift focus towards the BJP whose political history is intertwined with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Since the BJP too forms part of a parivar which is not Gandhi but Sangh parivar, it is reasonable to suspect the commitment of the BJP towards the Constitution. Even before they answer questions related to the Constitution, they've got to answer a very famous question recently echoed by Magsaysay awardee P Sainth, arguably the most credible Indian journalist. And the question is: "Where was the RSS when the freedom struggle was on?"
The RSS's history bears testimony to its opposition towards the Indian Constitution and national tricolour. On the eve of independence, that is August 14, 1947, Organiser, the official mouthpiece of RSS, published the following views about the national tricolour: "The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the tricolour but it never be respected and owned by the Hindus (sic). The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country."
While Savarkar openly gave the message to "Hinduise all politics and militarise Hindudom" on May 25, 1941, an editorial published in Organiser (November 30, 1949) lamented that independent India's constitution makers did not take a leaf out of Manusmriti. So vicious was the RSS in its opposition to the Constitution and national flag that the Government of India decided to lift the ban imposed on the RSS only after it promised to change its position vis-a-vis the Constitution and national flag.
Press clippings available with The Hindu Archives titled "Ban on the RSS lifted" state, "The RSS chief Mahadev Sadashiv Golwalkar has given an undertaking that the Sangh will function as a cultural and democratic organisation and will respect the Constitution and flag of the Indian Union."
With the Congress having suspended constitutional liberties for a period of 21 months during the Emergency and the RSS (the ideological parent of the BJP) being allowed to function only after it was forced to give an undertaking promising respect towards the Constitution and national flag, it is safe to say that India's supreme law in the form of the Constitution needs to be constantly guarded from the evil designs of both the Congress and BJP-RSS combine.