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THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 9 JULY, 2017

This Systemic Annihilation of the Opposition Does Not Spell Well For Democracy

THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL


The BJP has declared war on all Opposition leaders who refuse to kow tow beyond a point. It has been a systematic gunning down of certain political leaders who have taken a strong position against the government at the centre, on charges that apply equally if not more to the ‘allies’ but are rarely invoked against them.

This has become evident over the past three years starting with Aam Aadmi Party under Arvind Kejriwal, with a wholesome attack on the party being further added to by diluting the powers of the Delhi government (still undefined) through Lt Governor Najeeb Jung (who then quietly left (or had to leave) after his ‘work’ of neutralising the government was over); arresting and removing senior officers on charges yet to be proven but moves that struck sufficient terror in the bureaucracy for others to decline offers to join the Kejriwal government; and opening corruption files on most, starting with the CM himself. Finally, it does seem that Kejriwal has given up part of the struggle, and will not be contesting the Gujarat elections as he had initially declared.

In West Bengal Mamata Banerjee has been a major irritant for the BJP, and stood up to the central government with increasing ferocity. The BJP that had started growing in the state found its tide stemmed as it were in the recent civic elections with the Trinamool Congress forging ahead. Darjeeling and adjoining districts are burning with the BJP hand being seen by locals as well as sections of the state media. The Bashirat violence that had religious mobs virtually attacking each other on the basis of rumours and fake photographs as is coming out now, has also taken a toll on the Trinamool Congress government. Here too senior leaders have been arrested on charges of corruption earlier, and are languishing in jail with Banerjee having lost her right arm advisors in the process.

Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar is one of those rare leaders in India who have never compromised with the BJP. At any point in time he has been taking on the right wing forces, and unlike Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, has never really been guilty of accommodating Muslim fundamentalists either. Like many in all political parties ---with not a single exception to this rule---Lalu Yadav is corrupt and is now being chased along with his family by the Central Bureau of Investigation but has refused to tone his criticism of the BJP.

The Congress party by the sheer weight of being the largest Opposition party in India is under constant attack by the BJP, but interestingly even the charges against son-in-law Vadra have not moved with the same rapidity as the cases against Lalu Yadav. The Congress attack on the BJP is in fits and starts to put it mildly, with several of its policies being pushed forward by the Modi govenrment such as GST, and even on the foreign relations plane, the embrace of Israel. Little has been heard from the Congress party on the lynchings of the minorities and the marginalised sections by cow mobs, with the party not even sending a delegation in grief and empathy to meet the family of 15 year old Junaid who was killed in a moving train recently.

Chief Ministers of Orissa and Bihar, Naveen Patnaik and Nitish Kumar respectively seem to have made their peace with the BJP at different levels and have virtually opt out of a decisive position on the Opposition unity platform. The DMK is still stirring the pot, but Tamil Nadu is not as easy to contain as the impoverished masses of the northern states, and perhaps Stalin and his party will be dealt with after the Presidential elections when it becomes clearer as to whether the AIADMK is divided, or quite willing to follow the BJP as a united entity.

In a democracy, Opposition is as important as the government. And both are expected to work together, one by criticism and the other remedial action, to keep India safe and her people secure. The country, regardless of macho slogans, becomes weak and almost paralysed if either declares war and uses every trick in the book to prevent the other from functioning. It is unfortunate that there is on display a growing intolerance to the Opposition, and a seeming plan as Opposition leaders who are now very vocal in the Central Hall of Parliament insist, to decimate the regional parties and the leaders standing through matters other than a healthy counter debate, and the ballot.

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