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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 52 December 23 & 30, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Dec 23 & 30, 2003

Saturday 23 December 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Dec 23 & Dec 30, 2023 (Double issue)

The BJP government of Narendra Modi has commanded a solid majority in India’s parliament since 2014 and has been brazenly using its numbers in an authoritarian fashion undermining the traditions of Parliamentary Democracy. Opposition political parties and their representatives have been targeted pretty systematically by Government departments, Income Tax officials, the Enforcement Directorate or other agencies. Legislation has often been rammed through with little debate in Parliament and the opposition MPs shooed away when they seem to be asking questions of accountability of the Govt. Not long ago the opposition Congress party MP Rahul Gandhi was expelled from Parliament within hours of being charged by a lower court in Gujarat. It was clear to many that this was a set-up job and the court case had been filed on cue of the powers that be. Finally, the Supreme Court overturned the Gujarat court ruling and Mr Gandhi’s parliamentary had to be restored. On December 8, 2023, the Opposition Tirunmul Congress Party MP Mahua Moitra who has been a vocal critic of the Government, was expelled from Parliament with no proof of wrongdoing and simply on a biased report of the Parliamentary Ethics committee clearly manipulated by the ruling party and Moitra was not given adequate chance to respond to the allegations. Moitra has done well to challenge her expulsion in the Supreme Court. The winter session of the Parliament saw the suspension of two-thirds of the elected Opposition members (the largest number ever in India’s history) simply because they demanded accountability of the government by seeking that it make a statement on the floor of the house over the security breach in Parliament on December 13, 2023. While 146 opposition MPs had been suspended from Parliament, the Government proceeded to pass extremely important legislation on criminal laws. This led the INDIA opposition alliance parties to stage a ’Save Democracy’ protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the suspension of opposition MPs from the Winter Session. This is a crucial joint public action by the opposition parties against the undemocratic ways of the Government that is letting parliamentary business proceed without an opposition, a situation that is unconstitutional and needs to be called out and mobilised against.

December 23, 2023 — HK

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