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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 14, April 1, 2023

Defend Parliamentary Democracy — Citizens statement (March 28, 2023)

Saturday 1 April 2023

Expressing concern over the expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from the parliament and his conviction in a defamation case, over a 1000 teachers, artists, scientists, cultural workers and members of the civil society called upon the people of India to take all measures to save parliamentary democracy from the assault from the ruling party.
Released by:
Apoorvanand, Gauhar Raza, Shabnam Hashmi


New Delhi



The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party from Lok Sabha following his conviction in a defamation case raises serious questions about the manner in which our democracy is being run today by the people at the helm of affairs. In this case he was given the maximum sentence of two year jail which also raises doubts about the objective of the verdict. Jurists have expressed surprise that the Lok Sabha secretariat worked at such lightning speed to deprive Rahul Gandhi of the membership of the house without even waiting for the higher courts to take a view of the order of the lower court. In fact both the acts, the conviction and sentencing of Rahul Gandhi and his subsequent expulsion from the House bring the judiciary and the people heading the house into disrepute. Whatever be the argument defending these two acts, it is clear that Rahul Gandhi has been targeted for his relentless criticism of the government, inside and outside the parliament. The entire episode, apparently. is not only an assault on the opposition but also weakens the two pillars of democracy, the judiciary and the parliament.

We need to underscore the fact that the opposition has a duty to speak on behalf of the people and make the government accountable for its acts. Democracy dies if all state institutions, including judiciary, are used to disable the opposition from doing its job by criminalizing its political acts. We have seen with concern the constant persecution of opposition leaders using various investigative agencies and by putting them in jail. We have also been disturbed by the unprecedented disruption of the parliament by the ruling party. The role of the presiding officers in not allowing the opposition leaders to use the forum of the parliament to air peoples’ concerns is subversion of democracy.

The action against Rahul Gandhi has to be viewed as part of defaming and criminalizing the opposition and demolishing the entire democratic structure. We appeal to the people to rise to the occasion and defend the opposition to save parliamentary democracy in its own interests, before it’s too late.

[The above statement has over 1000 endorsements]

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