Backdoor to power


March 30, 2016

The BJP government is successfully dislodging Congress state governments by abetting dissidence in the latter. Though its means may be questionable, the truth is that the Congress is simply unable to get its house in order.

It must be said to the credit of the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that there is never a dull moment since it came to power two years ago. There is a constant churn on various fronts. When it is not attempting to perpetuate its hegemony in universities, either through discrimination or thought control, it is busy acquiring power through questionable means.

Its campaign, all along, to free India of its principal opponent, the Congress, has been so intense that it appears to have pushed the party out of power in one state and has just unseated it in another. Not that the Congress rules in an impressive number of states in the country. It had control of five states but since last month, it has been left with power only in three states.

The ruling party has successfully abetted the rebellion within the Congress to ensure that it lost power, first, in the north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, and then focussed its attention on the northern state of Uttarakhand. The means it has adopted are, in a certain sense, innovative. It helped the Congress dissidents in Arunachal by using the office of the Governor to advance the session of the legislative assembly so that the government falls and President’s Rule is imposed.

But, it has been careful enough to ensure that the imposition of central rule does not come up before the two houses of parliament for ratification. It knows very well that it can get this ratification in the lower house or the Lok Sabha because it enjoys a majority. But, in the upper house or the Rajya Sabha, its move would get defeated because it lacks a majority. So, it got the Congress dissidents to form a government with the support of BJP members in the assembly, ensuring that it did not have to face embarrassment in the upper house.

A similar attempt is now on in Uttarakhand where it has imposed President’s Rule on the ground that the Congress dissidents had opposed the passage of a money bill and that it was passed by a voice vote. The imposition of central rule has come a day before the Congress chief minister was scheduled to take a vote of confidence. This is also bound to be taken to the Supreme Court as in the case of Arunachal Pradesh. The legalities will certainly take time to be sorted out because imposition of central rule in both these states violates the fundamental principle established in the epochal judgment of the Supreme Court in the S R Bommai case.

The court had then ruled that the majority of a government will have to be established on the floor of the assembly. Over the years, the political class has found newer ways of acquiring power but it appears now that the BJP has given up its old principled stand which it had followed in yesteryears. However, it is the haste to acquire power by showing scant respect for propriety and to the law of the land that is, truly, amazing. The Congress, of course, has been crying hoarse over the illegal methods adopted by the ruling party to acquire power.

But, given the ruling party’s propensity to subvert all that the makers of the country’s Constitution had envisaged, the Congress party should not have appeared shocked. It has veterans in the party who are well versed with managing legislators, or what in today’s parlance is called ‘horse trading’. With money and power, these leaders should have expected the BJP to indulge in power play. It appears the Congress party leadership preferred to ignore the grievances of a section of its legislators in the two states.

In fact, the story goes that its unhappy legislators did try to communicate their grievances to the Congress high command. Some were even made to wait for more than a couple of weeks in Delhi because the decision-maker in the party, Rahul Gandhi, was busy with other issues. It is also possible that the party’s old guard opted to keep quiet and instead watch the young man’s performance. That failure to listen, rather redress, the complaints that legislators have against the chief ministers now seems to be the principal reason for the party to lose power in both the states.

Party insiders will tell you that Rahul Gandhi has changed quite a lot after his sabbatical sometime last year post which he launched his stinging campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. It is obvious now that fighting the battle on multiple fronts is not something in which he appears to have been successful, at least, as yet. Perhaps, he will need to be less dependent upon the political inexperience of erstwhile heads of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academically qualified men in his inner circle. Until then, at least, Rahul’s party would do well to legally fight the subversion of the rule of law by the ruling party and get its own house in order. But, what is clear now is what the BJP meant by saying it will free the country of the Congress. This is how it plans to do that, through the backdoor.

Move out of conflict zones

India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, sent out a succinct message to non-resident Indians (NRIs) through her twitter account. Her tweet said: ‘We have issued advisories many times. I request you once again - Please move out of the conflict zones. Pl RT (please retweet)’. This tweet was preceded by three others in which she had written about the killing of Sunu Sathyan and her 18 month old son, Pranav, in Libya’s fifth largest city of Al Zawiya. Sunu’s husband, Vipin Nair, was away at the Al Zawiya hospital when a rocket fell in their apartment located within the hospital complex.

The frightening aspect of this accident is that there are over 17 male and female Indian nurses, along with 11 children and two dependents, who have been housed in the same apartment building. All of them went over to work in that medical teaching hospital in 2011 and their contract ended last month. But, they have not been able to leave because their final settlement had not been completed. The peculiar aspect is that the hospital had paid them their salaries for the last few months. One nurse told this writer that they could not draw the money because the bank did not have money to disburse the amount to the account holders.

There cannot be any argument over Swaraj’s appeal to the NRIs to move out of the conflict zones. It is true that advisories were issued in the past. In the case of Libya, it was issued after Indians were evacuated from Tripoli and Benghazi when hospitals, too, became conflict zones. But, the choice for the poor families at Al Zawiya or other NRIs like them from the southern state of Kerala is a difficult one.

Like hundreds others, they are working under such dangerous circumstances because they need to earn a decent living.

Maybe, the advisories will carry more meaning if the federal government improves the economic conditions within the country to the point where the nurses get the same salaries back home which they get abroad.

 

Tailpiece

Two popular e-commerce websites had to face the ignominy of using a sombre day like Good Friday to attract consumers for their discount sale. One of them said: ‘It’s a really really good Friday’. The other said: ‘We know it’s a really Good Friday when you get 50-80 per cent off’.

It is fairly clear that these two companies had no clue of what Good Friday was all about. Obviously, whoever wrote those lines mistook ‘Good’ to be a happy day without realising that it is a day of mourning for the Christian community. And, that was the day Jesus Christ was crucified.

To cap it, a Muslim leader from the ruling BJP also sent ‘warm greetings’ on the occasion from his twitter handle. One of his followers had to point out to him that it was a day of mourning like Muharram.

Anyways, the social media onslaught forced the companies to issue a regret note later. Technology may change the way goods are sold, but it cannot turn everything into a happy moment.

[The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Muscat Daily or Apex Press & Publishing]