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17 Feb 2019·
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Opinion

Constitutional Bodies Under Threat in Modi Raj?

Constitutional Bodies Under Threat in Modi Raj?

In an unprecedented development, the TDP-led Andhra Pradesh Government has withdrawn its “General Consent” given to the central investigating agencies to enter the state and conduct searches on charges of corruption against officials of the central government and central undertakings and private persons.

Justifying the decision, the TDP said that the CBI is being used as a tool by the Modi government in order to keep the independent institution in their hands.  Naidu and his government took the firm decision to withdraw the permission to the CBI to handle any of kind of operation in the state after carefully examining the things for the past six months.

Now the question arises  the CBI or for that matter, other constitutional institutions are functioning at whims and fancies of the NDA government?

When the Modi government swept a landslide victory in May 2014, interestingly, there was not even a single Muslim or Christian MP among the 282 who won on the party’s ticket. In a diverse country like India, a party winning majority in the Parliament would be expected to have the diverse communities represented. But it was not the case with the saffron party and clearly indicates that the BJP cares little for such niceties. Is not it indicating that the minorities have no place in the BJP’s scheme of things in “sabka saath”.

Whether it is a question of individual rights or of political battles, the Modi government have shown time and again that they don’t need to think twice before smashing democratic values and norms. Here are few examples where the democratic institution which was built over the years is facing a crisis in last four-and-a-half years.

Centre Vs RBI - Raghuram Rajan Epic Repeated

In the long list of institutions facing the crisis democratic norms, RBI, the apex body of the banking sector in the country is the latest institution to face the music of the Modi Sarkar. Even rumours spurt that RBI Governor Urjit Patel may quit the post following differences between the RBI and Finance Ministry in the Modi Raj.

The rift has created political and economic uncertainty. Investors want policy continuity from both the RBI and the government to ensure inflation is kept in check and economic stability is maintained.

The fight between the government and the RBI came to light when some media reports claimed that the government has invoked its special powers to issue consultations on several issues. The government was said to have invoked Section 7 of the RBI Act. RBI Deputy Governor Dr. Viral V Acharya, in a speech recently, had said that the government that undermine the independence of the central bank suffers wrath of the markets.

Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram has claimed that the Raghuram Rajan story is being repeated as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to remove RBI Governor Urjit Patel from his post because the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) wants Patel to exit from the office.

The government wants the RBI to go easy on restrictions on weak banks, while the regulator wants to continue with its policies.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch wants Dr. Urjit Patel out. That means the Modi government wants him to go. It is a repeat of the Raghuram Rajan story

— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 3, 2018

The government appointed S. Gurumurthy, a prominent BJP supporter and an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to the RBI board earlier this year along with Satish Marathe, a former banker with ties to the RSS has also raised eyebrows.

CBI Vs CBI

India’s ‘premier investigating agency’, the Central Bureau of Investigation, or the CBI, is buzzing with all the wrong news lately. The Oppositions are training guns saying that the PMO wanted to control the CBI through handpicked officers such as Asthana.

The first time this theory was extended was when the Modi government made Asthana acting CBI director after the retirement of previous Chief Anil Sinha in December 2016. He held the post for a few months until Alok Verma took over.

The influx of IPS officers, who either belong to the Gujarat cadre or had investigated the Gujarat riots of 2002 — Y.C. Modi, now the chief of National Investigation Agency; A.K. Sharma, a 1987 batch Gujarat cadre officer, who found mention in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case; Praveen Sinha, a 1988 batch Gujarat cadre officer who is currently additional director of CBI; Raghavendra Vatsa, a 2005 batch Gujarat cadre who is posted as SP, ACB, Lucknow; and Gagandeep Gambhir, a 2004 batch Gujarat cadre who is DIG, CBI, Delhi — to central agencies only strengthened the case of Modi’s critics.

BJP needs a politically solid and institutionally impeccable talking and action point, a real solution that will help restore CBI's institutional credibility.

Many ex-top cops and commentators with domain knowledge of law enforcement affairs have said multiple times, is to make CBI a statutory body through a fresh law.

Centre Vs Supreme Court

Few months earlier four supreme court judges held a press conference and alleged that “Democracy will not survive”. Addressing the media J. Chelameswar, the then judge of the supreme court had reportedly said, unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country. Justice Chelameswar said, adding that it was “extremely painful” to hold the press conference in such a manner. The press conference was held at Chelameswar’s residence.

No Respect to democratic values

The same disregard for democratic norms was evident in the manner in which the BJP rushed to form governments in Manipur and Goa despite having lost in the elections in both the states. With governors who were not surprisingly willing to play along – the one in Goa actually went on record to say she had consulted Arun Jaitley about it!!! – the people’s mandate was reduced to an irrelevancy. Given the manner in which the BJP had sought to destablise the government in Uttarakhand earlier in its tenure and had successfully converted a Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh into its government, Manipur and Goa came as no surprise, but they did underline just how cavalier the party’s attitude towards democratic norms is.

Hate Speech and Attacks on Press Freedom

VIP Hate speech is certainly one area where the Modi Government is No. 1. A study by NDTV found that under the Modi Government, VIP hate speech – hateful and divisive language (the study excluded sexist remarks about women) skyrocketed by 500%. Around 90% of hateful comments made during the NDA’s current terms are by BJP politicians.

Such hate speech accompanied by violence against dissenting voices has marred India’s reputation in the world. India ranked 138 in 180 nations in the Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) Press Freedom Index.

Every-day Violence against Dalits and Minorities

There has been a spectacular increase in organized political violence against Dalits and minorities (Muslims particularly, as well as Christians).

Lynching of Dalits, lynching of Muslims, violence against Kashmiris at the hands of State forces in the Valley and non-state mobs all over India, murder of Dalit activists and protesters, and arrests of Dalit leaders like Bhim Army leaders who challenge the anti-Dalit violence, are now commonplace.

The Modi Government, probably failing on all other counts and going to face people’s anger in 2019.


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