A Facebook cartoon tells it all! Rahul Gandhi, thrown out of Parliament and served with eviction notice, and a lower court rejecting his appeal, drives out in search of a flat. On the way, Lady Justice, standing on the footpath, apparently being thrown out from the judicial sanctum, beckons to Rahul and tells him in distress: “Please find a new home for me too.”
In such a pithy note, the cartoonist has captured the Indian scenario. Looking at the cartoon, a tea shop vendor quipped: ‘At this rate, the nation is going to the dogs.” What he meant was clear: Our nation is taking a drastic turn for the worse, or is deteriorating shockingly.
Mind you, the present day tea vendors cannot be taken for granted. Gone are days when illiterate tea vendors plied their trade at street corners or decrepit railway stations. But today, the tribe may have a neatly computerised degree folded under their armpit and can elaborate on any subject under the sun, be it plastic surgery or arithmetic conundrums or can shout with tongue in cheek: “Yeh desh mai bikne na doonga.”
Let us leave the tea vendor where he is. The point of the cartoon is that in today’s India there is little space for justice. Even lady Justice can get an eviction notice and consequently take refuge on footpath. When the rulers get dictatorial, what else can be expected?
You don’t need a Socrates to tell you that, anywhere in the world, when a democratic government is being turned into a dictatorial autocracy, the nation slips into the quagmire of lawlessness and rule by force.
How do you gauge the Indian situation? Judge for yourself! Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is convicted in a defamation case and loses his Parliamentary membership. Within two days, following his disqualification, he is served with eviction notice by asking to vacate his Tughlaq Lane bungalow in Delhi which he has been occupying since he won Amethi Lok Sabha seat in 2004.
India Today has described it as ‘paying the price for speaking the truth.” Congressmen question why Gulam Nabi Azad, who deserted the Congress for greener pastures and cozying up to BJP, was not served any such notice despite losing his membership of the Upper House in February 2022. Reports say there are some others too who enjoy the comfort of government bungalows even after their stipulated term. It all depends who enjoys whose favour.
National Spokesperson of Rashtriya Janata Dal and Member of Rajya Sabha, Manoj Kumar Jha’s statement is very relevant: “If you have so much problem with the Opposition, put all of them in jail. Fight election alone, and establish your autocracy.” Not just Jha, many other people are wondering why opposition politicians are accorded the undue ‘favour’ of a midnight knock of the Enforcement Directorate or the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Special Investigation Team. People have sat up to ask why former Delhi Minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia has to face the heat of the Modi dispensation. They ask: Is it because of his ‘Himalayan’ performance of providing good education for students and improving health facilities for Delhi people that he is given jail punishment under the cover of ‘excise policy scam’?
It is said that Rahul Gandhi locked horns with Modi by questioning why Adani is allowed to go scot-free when he (Adani) is accused of improper use of offshore tax havens and manipulating stocks. Rahul is paying the price for his impetuous questioning. That is what a seasoned political observer told me: “Rahul is punished for touching Adani.” Many wonder why BJP stalwarts and bhakts who should have been booked long ago under criminal clauses are left untouched. They can defame Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, by shooting at his effigy and be glorified as heroes and heroines. It is a criminal offence that deserves to be punished under sedition law.
Christians are attacked, their worshipping shrines demolished and false cases clamped against them. Muslim are told they are non-citizens, and the history of Mughal rule is wiped off from Indian history. The murderer of Mahatma Gandhi is adored as national hero. I was horrified to see a certain Anuj Vishkarma’s online statement: “Mahatma Gandhi se ache hai Godseji)” (Godseji is better than Mahatma Gandhi). He was commenting while listening to Asaduddin Owaisi’s reaction to the recent murder of Atiq Ahmed and his brother while in police custody and in full public view. Is it not an indication that Hindu fundamentalist factory is churning out Godse disciples as terrorists? Another threatened Owaisi saying: “Ab tumari baari.” Terror stalking our streets and lanes!
The nation is wallowing in the quagmire because of many other reasons too. The nature of the nation with its secular, socialist, and democratic mandate, as laid down in the Preamble of the Constitution, is getting defaced in umpteen clever and oblique ways without formally changing the Constitution. The socialist character of the nation is given a different narrative by selling out national assets to corporate houses and crony capitalists. Bereft of any social or governmental control, the private players bowl and bat with their own free market capitalist profit.
The ruling powers play fiddle while the electorate suffocate under the strangulating effect of price rise. Time was when the same men and women, while they were in the opposition, took to the streets with drum beats to cry foul against the then UPA government for the price of Rs. 400 for a gas cylinder. Today, when the cylinder price has shot up to Rs.1150, those street smart drummers, feeling no shame, pretend ignorance. Be it petrol or diesel, be it food items or essential medicine, the market-driven economy has turned our pots and pans empty and our lives miserable.
Many business cronies have run away to safe havens after taking hefty loans with the connivance of bureaucrats and politicians. Neither the court nor the government seems to have any control over them nor has anyone thought of reclaiming and recovering the nation’s asset.
When people say the nation has gone to the dogs, they mean it. They mean that the situation is out of control of the common electorate which pushed up these guys to power. No one is to question the government’s policies unless one wants to incur the wrath of the government and be condemned as anti-national and rot in jail.
In a democratic government, dissent or divergent opinions by citizens or by legislators cannot be stifled. Freedom of opinion is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right. But, we have come to a stage where a cartoonist or comedian can be put under arrest under anti-national provisions of a colonial law. A journalist visiting a village, where a poor dalit girl was gang-raped, is put under detention for 28 months with sedition charges. Denial of justice and deprivation of basic human rights make a mockery of all straight-laced statements and promises by men in power. A legislator is denied bail in a case of defamation while massacre accused men and women not only get bail but also are declared innocent. No wonder, Lady Justice is waiting on the footpath to get a lift to her new destination!
The Courts are also facing the heat of the Executive. In a bid to clip the wings of the judiciary, the Executive is trying to bulldoze its way and is trying to tell the nation that the Parliament is supreme, not the Constitution. A clear indication that the government is showing all signs of dragging the nation to the soak pit of authoritarianism even by changing the Constitution.
With such a fundamentalist authoritarian government, our children could possibly be taught that the Taj Mahal came up like a mushroom by churning the Yamuna. That Muslims, Christians and Dalits are termites needing extermination. That all have to follow the Senapati’s diktat, like that of Hitler, who wiped out six million Jews in gas chambers. What a burial for democracy!