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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 6 New Delhi January 26, 2019 - Republic Day Special

Protecting Republican Constitution

Monday 28 January 2019, by SC

EDITORIAL

As we prepare to celebrate our seventieth Republic Day on January 26 this year, a grim situation stares us in the face now that we are approaching our next general elections within a short span of time.

The poll bugle has already been sounded by both the Opposition parties and the ruling BJP and it appears that it would be a no-holds-barred election campaign this time. If the mega-rally by practically all the Opposition parties held precisely a week before the Republic Day in Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground saw the nation’s most prominent, outspoken and articulate leaders in the Opposition camp—joined by a sprinkling of erstwhile BJP stalwarts now firmly opposed to the Prime Minister and his core policies—highlighting the urgent necessity to defeat and dislodge the Modi-Shah duo-led BJP from power, the ruling party’s topmost leader today launched in West Bengal’s Malda district one of the sharpest attacks on the united Opposition in general and the West Bengal CM in particular while mocking at the proposed mahagathbandhan’s inability to project anyone with the potential of taking the PM head-on.

At the Malda rally today, Amit Shah, armed with the list of whatever the PM had announced in terms of development programmes in the past four-and-a-half years, sought to present the Union Government’s “achievements” in the course of its tenure. But what was missing was a cogent reply to the Opposition’s criticism that the tall promises Modi had made in terms of employment generation had remained unfulfilled. This is the primary reason for the disillusionment of the public with the ruling party, apart from the hardships the poor and marginalised as well as ordinary businessmen had been forced to endure mainly due to the thoughtless demonetisation and hastily implemented GST. Besides, neither Shah nor the other BJP leaders have been able to convincingly answer the charge of corruption in the Rafale deal—the bonanza showered on one of the Ambani brothers to the detriment of the HAL public sector enterprise.

A year ago it was written in these columns:

“...what is more alarming is the social unrest that has gripped the nation with mounting assaults on the minorities as an integral part of the majoritarian onslaught which has increased phenomenally since the assumption to power of the present dispensation in 2014. A sense of insecurity thereby prevails among the minorities, especially Muslims...”

In the last one year things have definitely worsened on this score.

Today large sections of our people are in the grip of both fear and hatred sown by our current rulers in the minds of the public. Those who came to power in 2014 have only sought to divide the minds instead of uniting them. A similar divisive step is now seen in the effort to legislate the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as the unfinished agenda of partition. This has already led to disturbances in the North-East and, as some media analysts underscore, this is a “misreading of history, especially of its several and complex trajectories in the North-East which will not be subsumed by an imposed Hindu-Muslim binary”.

Clearly those running the nation from the South Block are hell-bent on playing with fire. It would thus be dangerous to allow them to stay on in office. This Republic Day should spur us all to pledge to dislodge them from the seat of power at the earliest, that is, through the coming electoral battle.

That indeed is our bounden duty at present in order to protect our Republican Constitution which, incidentally, is also under threat of being altered beyond recognition.

January 22 S.C.

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