Rahul’s membership: Now onus on LS secretariat

Rahul’s membership: Now onus on LS secretariat

The Supreme Court Friday stayed the conviction of Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case against him over his ‘Modi surname’ remark, while maintaining that his remarks are not in good taste, especially for a person in public life.

The Supreme Court Friday stayed the conviction of Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case against him over his ‘Modi surname’ remark, while maintaining that his remarks are not in good taste, especially for a person in public life. The trial judge had awarded the maximum sentence of two years in the case. The top court on Friday observed that it would not have attracted disqualification if the sentence was a day lesser.

The Supreme Court observed, “No doubt that the utterances by the petitioner were not in good taste and the petitioner ought to have been more careful in making speeches. Well one expected that Rahul Gandhi who the Congress leaders claim had matured tremendously after his Bharat Jodo Yatra would at least agree with the courts observation that the utterances were not in good taste. But don’t know who his advisors are he simply said his job was to protect the country. Rahul should understand that the country is safe it is only the political parties which are creating trouble due to their short-sighted electoral politics. They pretend to be highly democratic when in opposition and turn despotic once in power.

The Supreme Court’s big relief to Rahul Gandhi has paved the way for his re-entry in Parliament. The big questions now are how long the Lok Sabha secretariat takes to restore his membership and whether he will be able to participate in the debate on the no-confidence motion against the government, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

As per the procedure for restoration of membership, Gandhi will need to make a submission to the Lok Sabha secretariat stating that his conviction has been stayed and his status as the Member of Parliament from Wayanad should be restored. He will also have to submit a copy of the Supreme Court’s order to the secretariat, which will go through it and then issue a communique.

But the Congress party which was in tearing hurry, wants to see Rahul back in Lok Sabha ahead of the no confidence motion on Monday and made efforts in getting the ball rolling. Less than an hour after the Supreme Court order, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and urged him to restore Gandhi’s membership.

A recent precedent, however, points to the process taking time in some cases. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Mohammad Faisal’s membership had been restored in March, more than two months after the Kerala High Court had stayed his conviction and sentencing in an attempt-to-murder case.

The secretariat had notified the restoration of the Lakshadweep MP’s membership on March 29, hours before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear his petition on the delay. Lok Sabha acts in this case would be interesting.

The ramifications of disqualification not just affect the right of the individual but also the electorate, the Congress party says. Just as the Lok Sabha secretariat issued a notice disqualifying Rahul Gandhi, it would also issue another notification restoring his membership once the Supreme Court’s order copy was received by the LS secretariat and in all probability he would be attending the Lok Sabha session from Monday and may even participate in the no confidence motion.

Friday’s development indicates the beauty of Democracy. In fact, a strong and good opposition is necessary to ensure that the democracy in India (not the acronym for group of political parties) was strong and vibrant.

But then the big question that now is whether the democracy in India is healthy. The irony is that all political parties when in government resort to authoritarianism and use all possible tactics to suppress the opposition and when in opposition make noise that the party in power was behaving in a despotic manner.

In the last one decade, take any state irrespective of which party was ruling it, the right of protest is being denied. Very interesting and funny incidents are being witnessed. In places like Andhra Pradesh when the Chief Minister has to go on a tour of some district, shops are closed, educational institutions are closed, roads are barricaded, green curtains are put on road sides, trees are cut, schools are closed, opposition leaders are taken into preventive custody or are put under house arrest. Audiences are kept at a venue with all exits closed.

But when the opposition parties want to hold a meeting, all kinds of restrictions are imposed. Permission by law enforcing agencies are denied. If they get permission from the court, the opposition leaders and their followers get no protection and the ruling party cadre is freely allowed to come into the streets and organise counter protests which leads to physical clashes and the police chases away the opposition workers and the road shows and meetings thus get disturbed. If the opposition resists, cases are booked against on several counts.

Let’s take a look at what happened in Thamballapalle constituency of Annamayya district when TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu started his journey via Punganur to reach Puthalapattu to address a public meeting.

The question here is why and how the police allowed YSRCP cadre to come on roads and protest against Naidu’s visit. Naidu is in ‘Z’ plus category and there were inputs indicating possibility of clash between the two sides but still protests and stone pelting took place and when Naidu asked his cadre to chase the YSRCP protestors the situation took a serious turn. The police resorted to lathi charge, fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets and the enraged TDP cadre set two police vehicles on fire.

The YSRCP activists ahead of Naidu’s arrival towards the by pass road sat on dharna with black flags and sporting black badges. Meanwhile, police closed the Punganur bypass. What for no one knows? Even RTC buses were cancelled, why? All this resulted in chaos, stone pelting, throwing of beer bottles which resulted in injuries to many including police personnel. Even presence of about 400 police personnel could not prevent the violence.

Naidu who got angry with the way the rival party activists were creating trouble said, “if you behave normally, I will also be cooperative if you come sticks, we too will respond with sticks.” He also found fault with police for not taking proper measures to see that no untoward incidents take place. It all went on for nearly four hours.

Normally under such circumstances, the ruling party top leadership does not react lest it could add fuel to fire. But here the party senior leader Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy commented that action and reaction was by Naidu.

This raises the issue of maintenance of law and order. Certainly, it is not a healthy trend. Even the Union Home Ministry wrote to DGP Andhra Pradesh to give details of security measures taken in case of Chandrababu Naidu and padayatra of Lokesh. They expressed serious concern over the incidents. This reflects the law and order situation in the state.

In Karnataka too allegations of law and order not being properly maintained are being made by opposition. The new allegation there is that media is also silent.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on May 26 said that the international connection of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir members has come to the fore. Notably, NIA has officially taken over the investigation of the recently busted Bhopal-Hyderabad module of the radical Islamic Organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir. “Their international connections have come to the fore in the investigation. The NIA has taken over the investigation,” Narottam Mishra said.

In case of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the NIA filed charges against 19 people, including 12 National Executive Council (NEC) members of the banned outfit, for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to wage a war for establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the country.

The situation in West Bengal too speaks volumes of how politics and political values are degenerating and how parties are adopting duel stand. They will not speak about violence in their states but will accuse all other parties including the BJP led government at centre. Those CMs or leaders of ruling party there will not speak on disturbances in their state but accuse PM of being silent on Manipur.

It is time all parties understand that a country cannot be made or destroyed by any one single party or group or government. All of them are responsible for the progress or otherwise. Everyone talks of the concept of Country first but in reality votes first is the sole aim of all and their strategies revolve round this single point agenda.

Some may ask why is the Centre quiet when law and order in some states is at low ebb? Well they have their own political equations even when it leads to adverse impact on ‘Vikas’ of that state. Unfortunately, no political party will accept this hard reality because truth is always bitter.

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