Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Violence in the name of dissent turns democracy into a lame duck 

By MR LALU

The streets of India are becoming battlefields on a daily basis and every passing day gives us a jolt of revolt. The hornet’s nest reactions that we frequently witness these days are enough to bring the country on its knees. A sense of deliberate and well calibrated exercise of outrage is seen across its landscape. Most of the parachute landed reforms by the Modi regime is seen to be blown away in the air itself by the mob frenzy and the impact of it goes beyond borders with more audience interestingly leaning on to manipulate and dictate terms to the world’s largest democracy. Is the country at war, the war that it is fighting from inside more hazardously than the one that it has been against its warmongering neighbours? If that is the case, India has no reason to drumbeat its democratic principles anymore. If the democratic values that we designed and defined for the wellbeing of a pluralistic society are not capable enough to maintain amity and balance, there should be efforts to revisit them and modify with respect to the demand of the time. We have so far been of the opinion that the enemies from across the borders are the real threat. But the latest developments in the country educate us that the real threat is from within, which India as a country is struggling to handle, mostly bound by the liabilities that a democratic setup has actually thrown us in. By turning the whole land into a warzone with public properties destroyed, and a mob fury toppling the essence of our democratic edifice to a deplorable and laughable stage, justifying arson and destruction as a right to express dissent, the parties and the stakeholders of violence are doing a severe injustice to the country. The incendiary mob is trying to challenge the nation’s audacity to pick iron gloves to crush its pig-headed outrage.

A steady shift of violence from the Gyanvapi to the Agnipath in less than two weeks has terribly shattered the minds of people, who uphold the values that the country principally espoused for generations, but seeing them fall apart writhing and wriggling, a sense of anxiety is simmering across India. The political involvement to tarnish the reputation that India has been successfully building on a global canvas is visible. This must be the result of a silent hopelessness that some parties have been going through – a predicament that they got entrapped in since 2014. No probable comeback at sight, most of them frantically jump into vehemently unethical and political slugfests bringing the country into the middle of a terrible trap. The government at the centre seems to be failing to explain its reforms before they are hard pushed on the polity. Every reform, for that matter, needs to be possibly put for public debate and the government must exhibit tenacity and patience and afford to look for the views evolving without prejudiced dispositions. Unless being authoritarian, no reforms can be hammered on the country. Radical reforms with long standing effects need thorough consultations in a democratic setup. The mystery behind the hullabaloo and violence leading to mass destruction of public property is gradually turning discernible. Should we call this an outcome of the nervousness that the Congress has been reeling under since the ED began to grill Rahul Gandhi on the National Herald case? The Agnipath has turned out to be a heavenly subject for the Congress party as its political horizon is clouded with bad times. The unquestionable authority of the Gandhi family in the Congress party is seen principally shaken and browbeaten and unable to take on to the country’s saffron political upsurge. It has taken a silhouetted representation by turning the party cadre into an unruly mob as the Congress scion sat facing the ED and the Agnipath gave it a tip off moment to empty its anger further.

The mythological intensity and tenacity the government maintained while dragging Rahul Gandhi to the ED’s table was criticized, but the suspicion on the Gandhi family on the National Herald case is escalating. Of course, it is untimely to comment on his culpability now. But the party that he leads needs to be tutored on how a democratic country functions when it comes to crippling the corrupt. If the corruption charges that are levelled against him are not true, his party needs to maintain restraint until he comes clean. This indeed would raise his brand value as a politician. The present depiction of disruptive behaviour by the party cadre pretending to be unleashing its aggression against the defence reform, and a genuine cause that it is trying to paint the arson and violence as, is a cowardly attempt to shield the complexity of a political huddle that Rahul Gandhi is naturally pulling his party into. The Congressmen have probably been thrown into a trap by the BJP by letting it unleash horror in the streets in the name of the ED investigation, in effect an act that the Congress party was articulating, mostly fearful of the damage the outcome of the investigation can cause to the Gandhi family and the party. An investigation, which could have been a silent process, was brought to limelight by the immaturity of its cadre, rampaging into the streets deliberately playing a victim card for its leader. This outrage and turbulence that the party designed was particularly meant for deepening the crisis that the country was already in due to the controversial remarks on the prophet by the BJP spokespersons.

Again, the uninterrupted and infuriating violence since Gyanvapi seems to have been a framework of this desperation which could successfully throw the country into flames. Local offences which should have remained mere trifling issues within the boundary of the country were overstuffed to the level of attracting global attention. The episodes spanning from Gyanvapi to the grilling of Rahul Gandhi by ED to the Agnipath, a sequence of deliberate interventions both internal and external were intended to break the brittle bones of democracy. Narratives to camouflage guilt and paint the initiatives of the government as attack on the democratic principles, allowing hostilities to bristle and ignominious attitude being permitted to precipitate, the visible apathy with which the parties deal the essence of India is insidious. A recipe for national disaster that the political ignobility in the country has developed, injects India’s veins with venom of hatred and the effect of the sedative has the power to shrink the ideological structure that we built the nation from where it began to pulsate the idea of acceptance and inclusiveness in principle and practice. By disturbing this equilibrium, the dynamism of the country’s democratic values would be tyrannised. We need enough cultural backing as a country to understand the perception battle that the parties have been pitching for years. Carried away by a flash flood of controversies that the political desperation is  trying to cause; every common citizen is getting entrapped in a whirlpool of chaos, unable to catch hold of the protective embankment of the democratic values which the politics in India turned slippery and feeble for the last few decades. We need tremendous intellectual involvement not emotional to understand the melodramatic impulse of politics, which often takes diplomatic somersaults in frequent intervals.    

(Author is freelance journalist and social worker based in Kerala. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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