Saturday, June 15, 2024

Using law to muzzle democracy, the BJP way!

Anger and frustration were writ large on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face when he mounted an attack on the opposition parties on Tuesday in BJP meeting in Delhi. As is his wont, he spoke of the corruption of the opposition parties only. The fact that two BJP MLAs in Karnataka, which is slated to go to polls on May 10, were arrested on the charges of corruption with full evidence did not merit his attention. The shenanigans of those leaders of other parties on whom the agencies conducted raids before stopping them after they switched over to the BJP were also forgotten conveniently. Modi has alleged that the opposition leaders have been attacking the agencies since they are probing their corruption. The PM’s statement is factually wrong.  The opposition leaders have been attacking the government and the prime minister for abusing the agencies.

Also read: Is Modi bent upon proving Rahul right?

Modi did not utter Adani word even while talking about corruption. The CBI and ED under Modi have enough time and manpower to persecute Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members regarding 2008 case of taking land in lieu of railway jobs. Lalu’s recent lever transplantation did not deter the agencies. Advised to keep away from others, Lalu was interrogated for hours by the sleuths. But the agencies are mum on Adani and others who are known to have misused their proximity to the powers that be. Who would trust Modi when he talks selectively of corruption? All the same, BJP corruption is the major poll issue in Karnataka. Allegations about ‘forty percent kickbacks’ are very popular there.

Narendra Modi’s over enthusiasm had unwittingly united the scattered opposition. Before Rahul’s disqualification, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee spoke of maintaining equidistance from the BJP and the Congress. She hosted UP strongman, Akhilesh Yadav and was a guest of Odisa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik the other day.  She was planning to have a discussions with Kejriwal of AAP and KCR of BRS. All those plans were changed thanks to the manipulative politics of using the Surat court judgment to unseat Rahul Gandhi. Sharad Pawar, the senior most opposition leader who weathered many a storm, had once again rescued the Maha Vikas Agadhi, the opposition coalition in Maharashtra, by advising Rahul not to speak against Veer Savarkar anymore and Rahul promptly agreed to follow the sensible advice. After all, Veer Savarkar was not part of the RSS against which the Gandhi-Nehru scion has been concentrating his salvos.

The whole drama of Rahul’s disqualification smacks of weaponising the law to harass the opposition. On 13 April 2019, just before the last general elections, Rahul Gandhi spoke in Karnataka and asked why all the thieves have the same surname – Modi. Gujarat MLA Purnesh Modi approached Surat court and filed a defamation case. Elections were held giving a huge majority to the BJP. Purnesh Modi lost interest in the legal fight. But Rahul Gandhi had got his statement in the court recorded on 24 June 2021. Then the Surat court asked the petitioner to present his case. The petitioner went to the High Court to get the proceedings at the Surat court stayed. The HC obliged and granted a stay. “It is rare that a complainant, who seeks to prosecute, rushes to the high court to have the trial stayed unless he believes that there is little likelihood of his succeeding before the trial court,” writes senior advocate and former union minister Kapil Sibal in the Indian Express.

On 27 February 2024, When the ruling party wanted, the case was suddenly revived before another magistrate. The speed with which Purnesh Modi’s petition in HC was withdrawn and the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Surat gave a judgment giving the maximum punishment to Rahul Gandhi speaks volumes about the judiciary in Gujarat.

Ordinary laws are used to muzzle democracy. By now the ruling party has mastered the art of navigating the lower judiciary. Now that the opposition parties approached the apex court to hear the case of abuse of investigative agencies to harass the opposition leaders, it will be both interesting and educative to watch the proceedings. The records show that 95 percent of the cases filed by the investigative agencies in the last eight/nine years are against the opposition leaders and not even five percent of the allegations have been proved. Still, Modi’s juggernaut goes on undaunted and unabated.

Also read: Clash between executive and judiciary taking a serious turn?

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor


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