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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 32 New Delhi July 27, 2019

RTI, Karnataka, Sheila Dikshit, A.K. Roy

Sunday 28 July 2019, by SC


With the BJP getting support from the parties that are fence-sitters in the Rajya Sabha to take the ruling conglomerate’s strength in the Upper House to a majority, the NDA, now in power for the second time in the country, is railroading legislations in Parliament. It started with the RTI Amendment Bill today as it was passed in both the Houses even after the Congress staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha when its demand to send the legislation to a Select Committee was rejected by the Treasury Benches. In effect it was democracy which suffered not just a severe jolt but a direct assault by this approach of the government in power.

But this is just the beginning. Several major Bills lined up for passage and adoption will likewise be steamrolled regardless of how this affects democratic functioning.

In the meantime Karnataka is witnessing a new drama. Several days after the defeat of the Congress-JD(S) Government there the BJP has yet to install its Ministry in the State presumably because of the Assembly Speaker’s belated decision to examine and disqualify the rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs. As of now when we go to the press three of the 15 rebel MLAs have been disqualified. So the murky scenario in that State continues for the present.

Significantly, as many as 49 eminent persons—film directors, actors, stage artistes, historians—have written a letter to the PM seeking immediate measures to end the reprehensible politics of mob-lynching resorted to by elements linked to the BJP or its sister organisations owing allegiance to Hindu majoritarianism attempting to tear apart national unity. What is regrettable is that leading personalities in the ruling party have taken upon themselves the task of roundly attacking these persons while threatening them with dire consequences for speaking out against the ruling party’s role in this context.

Meanwhile, the country has in the last few days lost two extraordinary politicians—Sheila Dikshit, 81, the noted administrator who, during her 15-year stint as the Congress CM in Delhi, transformed the city-state into a modern metropolis; and Marxist trade unionist A.K. Roy, 90, who not only founded the Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC) and raised workers’ issues in Jharkhand (where he functioned) but made his mark in Parliament itself especially in his last term in the Lok Sabha (1989-91) when he singlehandedly opposed a proposal in the Lower House to increase the salary and pension for MPs. The country is indeed poorer today due to the departure of these leaders.

July 25 S.C.

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