Modi-Ji, Uniting The Opposition- By Rajkumar Meena
Narendra Modi has done the unthinkable: he has helped unite opposition parties. Last night, the latest reflection of this unity was seen when four Chief Ministers visited Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to show their solidarity with his nearly week-long sit-in. They had also requested a meeting with the LG of Delhi, Anil Baijal, but he refused to entertain them. Arvind Kejriwal is on dharna in the ante-room of the LG’s office with three of his cabinet colleagues, two of whom are on hunger strike. Common sense demands that these Chief Ministers, who are senior leaders of the country, should be allowed to meet Arvind Kejriwal, but Mr Modi is made of a different mettle.
One can easily ask why Modi should be blamed for this. Delhi is the national capital and the LG is the man in charge; in his own right, he is sovereign. Mr Baijal is a career bureaucrat. He knows how to further his career. He had retired as the Home Secretary and credit should be given to him that he was considered to be a good bureaucrat. But to derive the conclusion that he had the audacity to deny a meeting with four senior Chief Ministers of his own accord is to not only misunderstand the mindset of a career bureaucrat but also the mindset the prime minister of the country. Neither is Mr Baijal so naive that he would decide on such a move without seeking the guidance from the top, nor is Mr Modi the sort to allow Mr Baijal the room to decide this on his own. Mr Modi is a control freak. In any case, such a political decision is always taken by Governors or Lieutenant Governors with the full blessing of the centre.
But this has proved to be a blessing in disguise. It has underlined the fact that India has come to such a pass under Mr Modi that minimum democratic courtesies are not allowed to be exchanged. These are democratically-elected Chief Ministers and were going to meet another democratically-elected Chief Minister. Not allowing them to meet him is an insult to the will of the people whom they represent in their respective states. This, in no uncertain way, sends a message to the people in the states that could harm the BJP.
This event has also proved the argument of opposition leaders that they are not accorded the respect that an opposition deserves in a democracy. For a democracy to work successfully, the opposition has to function freely without any inhibition in criticising the policies and politics of the government. It is in the fitness of democracy that governments should provide that space.
But in the last four years, there has been an attempt to suppress the voice of the opposition. In the most brazen fashion, investigating agencies have been unleashed upon rivals of the ruling party, opposition leaders are regularly arrested on fictitious and frivolous charges. The income tax department, the Enforcement directorate, the CBI and the state police have been used in the most oppressive manner. In Delhi, more than 15 AAP MLAs had been arrested; most of them have been given a clean chit by the courts as government agencies have failed to prove charges. In West Bengal, more than ten senior party members of the Trinamool Congress are either in jail or facing criminal cases. Many of them are members of parliament and ministers. Lalu Yadav and his entire family are facing the same situation. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh’s official residence was raided the day his daughter was getting married. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, his son and wife are also facing the music
The 24-year-old Patel leader, Hardik, was jailed for more than 11 months by the BJP government under sedition charges only because he dared to raise the anguished voices of Patels. In western UP, Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad has been languishing in jail for more than a year. His only crime is that he fought against Dalit atrocities. His case was even more curious. He got bail from court and thereafter the UP police slapped the National Security Act to keep him jail. It is beyond comprehension why he should be behind bars, but the BJP government finds him dangerous to national security.
It is a matter of common knowledge how DK Shivakumar, the senior Congress leader in Karnataka, was treated when he provided sanctuary to Gujarat Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha elections. His resort was raided. But BJP leaders are not touched at all.
Under the Modi regime, the AAP government is not the only opposition government against whom there have been continuous attempts to destabilize it. The governments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh were sacked only to be reinstated by the Supreme Court. The BJP used every immoral trick to not let the opposition form a government in Karnataka. In Manipur, Goa and Meghalaya, the BJP manipulated the people’s mandate to form their governments. The governors and Lieutenant Governors are behaving like parallel power centers in states.
The LG of Delhi is not the only one who is obstructing every effort of the elected government of Delhi. Kiran Bedi in Puducherry is equally hell bent on not letting the Congress CM function. The media is not spared either. Almost every media house has been pressured to toe the government’s line and deride the opposition except a few and those who have refused to be cowed down have either been raided by the CBI or are facing several notices from the income tax department or defamation cases are slapped on them. The TV media has practically become a captive of the government.
It is this scenario that has made the opposition leaders realise that India in the last four years has slipped into a kind of a dictatorial system where only one party and one leader is allowed to flourish . Since Indira Gandhi’s emergency days, the country has not experienced such an abnormal situation. This is a do-or-die situation for those who believe in democracy. The opposition has realised that if it doesn’t come together, it will be difficult for them to survive. The Karnataka election was the first proof that united they stand and divided they will all perish. In Karnataka, the Congress offering the CM seat to JD(S) despite having almost double the number of MLAs is not an ordinary development. The Karnataka experiment has emboldened the opposition for the bigger fight.
It is no ordinary development that four CMs decided to visit the Delhi CM and extended their support for his fight against the dictatorial behaviour of the Delhi LG and his efforts to paralyse the elected government. Be it Akhilesh Yadav, or Tejashwi Yadav, powerful leaders in their own states have also openly supported the cause. The DMK and Shiv Sena have also attacked the Modi Government on this issue.
This is a clear signal that all opposition leaders have realised that Arvind Kejriwal is not fighting only his battle, but that all of them are in the same boat, and all of them have to fight together. It is in this context that the LG’s stubbornness has proved to be a boon. And his step of not meeting the legitimate demands of the AAP leaders and declining to oblige the four CMs will prove to be detrimental to his master whom he is trying to serve to further his career. He has forgotten that he is only an appointed person. The CMs are the elected ones and they are the leaders of the masses.