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Sushant Singh: BJP’s posthumous weapon

Kalluri Bhaskaram

Our epics divided time into yugas, manvantaras and kalpas. As the lower part comes up and upper part goes down in a rotating wheel, yugas, manvantaras and kalpas also come repeatedly. It means here all phases occur repeatedly as if they are in a whirlpool and not in a straight line. It may happen elsewhere also, but let us limit to our experience for now.

Let us consider the consequences after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. The first thing we have to discuss is the pattern that they followed. The sudden death of a film celebrity who had a great future was an unfortunate incident, but did we ever see the primetime discussions on national TV channels for days together on the death of a film actor? The same is the situation of the later developments.

Sushant belongs to Bihar and settled in Mumbai. There are many in the country that belong to one state and live in another state. Many celebrities are also there among such people. All their activities are usually tied with the states that they live in. But, in the case of Sushant, it happened differently from the natural justice. Sushant’s father, who lives in Bihar, made various allegations against Rhea Chakraborty and filed a case against her at his local police station. They included betrayal and financial crimes. The police accepted the case.

Further, the state government requested CBI to investigate the case. When Rhea Chakraborty filed a petition in the Supreme Court that Bihar does not have the power to assign the case to CBI, the court ruled in support of the Bihar government and approved its action.

If a state thinks that a CBI investigation is necessary on an incident happened in that state, then it is a routine that the state government orders a CBI enquiry or rejects a demand of CBI intervention if it thinks it is not necessary. But, here the Bihar government ordered a CBI enquiry on an incident that happened in Maharashtra. The CBI accepted the case. The Supreme Court also supported it. We can see this from various perspectives – justice, law, morality and tradition.

Did we ever see Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Narcotics Control Bureau investigating a case with such a speed that we are witnessing in Sushant’s case. Another Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut made serious allegations on Maharashtra  state government and the ruling Shiv Sena Party  regarding Sushant’s case. She compared Mumbai to Pak-occupied Kashmir. There is nothing unusual if we look at it from the perspective of free speech. But, what makes it out of ordinary is Kangana Ranaut asking the government of Himachal Pradesh, her native State, y-category security for her protection and the state government immediately recommending to the centre which approved in jet speed. There is no precedent to it, at least in the recent past.

Overall, two state like Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and union government interfering in a law and order issue of a state, which comes completely under the purview of the state, is unprecedented. Another surprising element in this was news channels indirectly accepting that they attacked the state government and the police on the pretext of Sushant’s case, which started with murder and money laundering allegations and turning it into a drugs case in a matter of days. 

No alternative way?

Was there no other way to do justice in Sushant’s case if there were any doubts that the state government was mishandling the case without two other states and union stepping into the powers of the state government? This is the question raised by laypersons who do not have any knowledge in law. For example, one solution is to reach out to the regional High Court. In contrast, filing a case in a different state and getting approvals from all sides leads to questions as to what would be the consequences of these developments in future.

It is Sushant today and could be anybody else tomorrow. It is enough that the person belongs to another state. Emotions can be aroused around the incident in the person’s native state and these emotions can be used for elections. If this kind of acts begins, there is no end to it.

The machinery of law and order and its performance in a state can be challenged by another state without any inhibitions and the Union government and the Supreme Court may approve that. Sushant’s case has established such precedent. Then, the state’s power on the execution of law and order would vanish. The morale of the machinery of law and order would weaken and it would become a white elephant in a room. A war like atmosphere would prevail among the States and it would put the national federalism in danger.

The ruling of different parties in different states is not new. However, even though the parties are different, there is a unique equation between the state governments and chief ministers beyond parties and affiliations. And it may sometimes take the form of union versus federal. Sometimes, apart from federal officials, the State governments or its leaders may also have to fight collectively against the Union in the matter of shares in taxes and other profits from the Union. To this extent, there is a need to maintain friendly relations with other states. The interference of Himachal Pradesh and Bihar in Sushant’s case is signaling enmity, not a friendly relationship.

It’s not that there were no incidents of conflict among States or that there won’t be any such incidents in future. One example is water disputes between States. However, the characteristics of these are different. There is a lot of history of practices of mediation of Union governments, tribunals and the Supreme Court on these issues. One state interfering in the law and order issues of another state is not done.

Clashes between BJP, Shiv Sena

Going into the details of Sushant’s case, it is hard to deny the feeling that the reason for the twists and turns in the case are related to the enmity between Shiv Sena and BJP after Shiv Sena ditched the BJP and teamed with the NCP and the Congress to form a government in Maharashtra.  The twists and turns have become disgusting. The grave allegations made by Kangana Ranaut against Shiv Sena and its leader Sanjay Raut hitting back with improper comments, demolition of Kangana’s office building, even though there are many illegal constructions in Mumbai, were not only shocking, but the developments in this case tell us how the conflict between the parties has been crossing the limits of decency.

It’s not that the Congress governments did not commit such acts in the past, but here in the present case, haste and crudeness are glaringly exposed in place of maturity and strategy. It doesn’t mean that anything can be done using strategy. Political fights can be fought, but these should not give the impression of crossing the limits. The fights should not give room to the notion that dark shadows are falling on the institutions.

When we see the incidents and developments holistically, the above mentioned whirlpool comparison comes to our mind. In the past, the whole country was divided into many small kingdoms with no one constitution stitching them together. One kingdom used to attack another. It was a time when there was no scope for the idea of national unity.

The two parties, Shiv Sena and BJP, which had maintained alliance at state and national level with a lot of common agenda, fighting against each other merely for the sake of power, Sushant’s case, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh interference, union’s support and the approval of the Supreme Court remind us the time when the kings of same caste and religion fighting with each other and dividing the country. The fight that had been focused between secularists and religionists now appears to be between two groups of the same religion.

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