Changing trends in Indian politics
A new trend seems to be in the offing. New kind of politics and Parliamentary practices appear to be in vogue. It is difficult to pass any judgement...
A new trend seems to be in the offing. New kind of politics and Parliamentary practices appear to be in vogue. It is difficult to pass any judgement on whether what is happening is good or not. But it does not seem to be a healthy situation. But then, if anyone says so, he would be branded as outdated.
Let's start examining the issues one by one. For the past few days The Citizenship Bill has been the talk of the nation. The North Eastern States are facing protests and violence. Some parties like the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have been agitating over the Bill.
They have been accusing the saffron party of playing politics with law. Every party and every government seems to be having an axe to grind. Their calculations are based on who will gain electorally?
The Citizenship Amendment Bill to grant citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants will be the top electoral issue in 2021 West Bengal and Assam Assembly elections. The BJP is hoping to wrest power in West Bengal and a second term in Assam as Muslims constitute around 27-30 per cent of the population of Bengal.
Even analysts have been writing columns after columns on the Bill and are predicting who stands to gain electorally. Some say that it will lead to polarisation of people on religious line and it will pay rich dividends to the BJP. Some say the Opposition parties are indulging in the game of minority appeasement. The RSS says that it will benefit 1.5 crore people across the country.
The reality is that the common man is not bothered much about the CAB. It may have political impact in some of the Northern States and some Eastern and North Eastern States where people from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have come as illegal migrants and settled down for decades, but down south it will not have any impact.
States like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu too have large number of Muslim population but they are not migrants from the neighbouring countries as these States do not have boundaries with any of the Muslim countries.
Hence, the BJP will not get any additional advantage, nor will there be any disadvantage to it politically. Even in the States on the other side of Vindhyas, it may not make much difference for the common man as those who had entered these States whether it be Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand or Bihar have by now settled down and their percentage too would not be very big and thus it will not be a major issue of worry for the common man.
But yes, it is certainly a cause of worry for some political parties including the Congress which has not been able to recover after the drubbing it received in 2014 and the severe drubbing it got in 2019 due to its non-flexible line of thinking and refusal to adopt to changing political scenario. Even now, it wants to harp on its attempt of trying to appease the minorities.
They still refuse to accept that the time when minorities used to vote in a particular way is over. No where do the minorities vote blindly on the dotted line on the basis of religion. But the Congress continues to feel that this one issue could make them bounce back in the Assembly elections in West Bengal and Assam.
The political parties should give up the habit of hiding the truth. Put the facts as they really understand and explain to the people as to what their logic behind the argument is. It is really a matter of concern that for narrow electoral gains, some parties are resorting to creating sort of fear and are spreading lies that it would affect the Indian Muslims as well.
It is a matter of common sense that this Bill is not applicable to Indian citizens irrespective of which community they belong to. It only seeks to grant citizenship to the religious minorities who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. This much the common man is clear in his mind.
What needs to be explained a little in detail to him is that CAB is applicable only to people belonging to Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsi or Christian communities from these three countries who have come to India before 2014 due to religious persecution and already living in India will be able to apply for citizenship.
Another emerging new trend is in regard to the manner in which the proceedings in the legislative bodies are being conducted. The book on Parliamentary practices which is applicable to the State legislatives says that the Speaker has absolute powers and is supreme authority as far as the matter pertaining to legislative affairs are concerned.
But it was surprising to see that the Andhra Pradesh Assembly had passed a resolution empowering the Speaker to take action against Opposition members. In my nearly four decades of experience in covering Parliament and legislative bodies, I was given to understand that the Speaker is all powerful and members look forward for his direction on contentious issues.
Now the situation seems to be different. On Thursday, the Opposition TDP legislators were stopped by Marshals as they tried to enter the house with placards and black badges. The gates were closed, and some arguments and some scuffle followed. Both the Opposition and the ruling party including the Chief Minister and the Leader of Opposition clashed with each other in the Assembly.
But both sides missed one important question. Who directed the marshals to close the gates? The marshals on their own cannot decide. It is the prerogative of the Speaker to take any such decision. In this case, did the Speaker direct the marshals to close the gates? This point was neither touched by the Opposition nor the ruling party and the Speaker too did not mention anything about it.
If he had said that it was his direction that no one should be allowed inside with placards or black badges, I am sure the Opposition would have lost its battle. But the precious time of the Assembly and public money was wasted in washing the dirty linen inside the house. Interestingly, the present generation seems to be enjoying the fight inside the Assembly. May be, we who belong to the old school are really outdated.