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Mainstream, VOL XLVIII, No 50, December 4, 2010

Beacon of Hope


Sunday 12 December 2010, by SC

The deadlock in Parliant continues with the proceedings of both Houses disrupted for the 15th day. The Union Government is in no mood to accede to the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam which the latter has amplified as the biggest scam in independent India. That is because such a JPC would have the authority to summon the PM before it; and this the government would under no circumstance allow.

On its part the united Opposition has made one point abundantly clear: that it is not ready to agree to anything short of a JPC probe.

Meanwhile the government has painted itself into a corner by deciding to brazen it out on the question of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner’s continuance in office. The Supreme Court, hearing the spectrum case, observed on November 30 that since the CVC “happened to be the Telecom Secretary at a given point of time when communications were sent to A,B,C,D”, it would be “quite difficult to be objective about supervising the investigation”. But the government, instead of allowing Thomas to step down from the post, directed him to continue as the CVC, and his offer to recuse himself from the 2G spectrum allocation probe was conveyed by the Solicitor General to the SC Bench on December 1 thereby drawing derisive remarks from several Opposition slalwarts who wondered whether this exercise was at all proper or tenable.

There is every possibility of the government tying itself in knots as a consequence of such a step.

There have been several other developments over the past few days. The most striking of these has been the lodging of cases by the police, following a court order, against writer-activist Arundhati Roy, Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others for sedition. Their crime: at a meeting in New Delhi on October 21 they said that Kashmir was not a part of India. Liberal opinion has been appalled by this development and Indian Express, of all the newspapers, has boldly come out in opposition to the executive move highlighting the unleashing of a colonial-era law. It has asked a pertinent question: “does India appear more stable and admirable if Geelani argues in Delhi for Kashmiri separatism and convinces few—or if the state responds to the most retrograde, statist members of its public and arranges for his prosecution?” The paper has thus called for immediate withdrawal of the cases.

In the midst of the murky goings-on on the national plane this is the only positive feature in our polity and represents a long-awaited effort to restore the atmosphere of tolerance that has been sought to be eroded by the intolerant outbursts of fanatic chauvinists and jingoists masquerading as upholders of our national identity. In the final analysis it is a courageous move to bring back the values on which our democracy was constructed following our independence in 1947.

This indeed is a beacon of hope.

December 2 S.C.

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