Bounty on Kanhaiya? Neither ADARSH & definitely SHARMAnak!

It is heartening to read that Adarsh Sharma has been arrested. His declaring a reward of Rs 11 lakhs to anyone killing Kanhaiya Kumar is abhorrent.

There can be no Final Solution in a democracy. It is for the same reason Pappu Yadav’s comment declaring reward for whosoever kills those responsible for  Rohith’s suicide is equally condemnable warranting similar action.

It is because law is supreme that Kanhaiya is sought to be prosecuted. And Kanhaiya can escape punishment by showing he is not in violation of law. The whole exercise re-enforces the rule of law and allows for a structured discourse which is indispensable for an ordered existence notwithstanding  conflict of ideas.

Abuse in language like violence in action symbolises want of conviction in one’s beliefs. And a belief which is held without conviction is just a passing fantasy, a self-indulgence for personal pleasure which has no creed or doctrine and is merely passing sentiment.

If we give credence to sentiment over belief mere offense NOT harm would be the basis of action and law would  cease being founded on norms but would captive to the dominant ideology of the day.

This is dangerous for democracy and if it is allowed to happen by supporters of a political party merely because that party is in power they will be defenceless when that party loses power because the criterion for action would be no principle but the dominant credo of the day. This is a very menacing situation because the stability and fidelity which gives credibility and worth to any legal system would be lost. 

Conflict of points of view makes for a robust society and the purpose with which freedom is granted to speech is NOT to obstinately hold onto one’s opinion but to correct it if in a principled clash it is found wanting. There is no hostility in such conflict ONLY engagement. It is only in this way that freedom of speech will NOT give way to “polarisation”.

I have serious disagreement with a few things which Kanhaiya has been associated with and the exchange with those supporting him has been sharp but there is no bounty at stake and the thought of violence to support my point of view has never crossed my mind.

I will object to the allegation of “judicial killings”, to the association with Kashmiri separatists and with the espousing of anti-India sentiment but I am assured in my belief that the established system will both address and correct what I believe are aberrant ideas because I will put them to a successful test according to settled norms. Even if I fail the established system would have triumphed.  No individual is bigger than the system.

For the same reason assault even by the lawyers was unacceptable – far from showing strength it displayed a weakness and embarrassed a person like me because the mode of protest discredited my point of view. The way in which one protests is an indication of character.

India today is engaged. This is wonderful. It shows it is different from Pakistan, China, North Korea and other countries. It also provides the assurance that every Indian should feel secure in it to make any thought of moving away from it unjustified. And it shows it rejects violence as the prop for any point of view. Physical attack and extermination show extreme scale of prejudice which is the reason we condemn Kashmiri Pandits being made to leave Kashmir. How then can the same method be adopted in a protest against what is believed to be an anti-national act? There is an inherent contradiction in the approach which exposes its utter untenability.

It is because we will not tolerate sedition we also NEVER tolerate any Adarsh Sharmas either.  And  if we do it will not be Adarsh and will definitely be Sharmanak!

PRESIDENT’S RULE & FRENCH REVOLUTION

The locking of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly premises compelling thirty three legislators to hold a meeting at a make-shift venue, Techi Takar Community Hall, is reminiscent a significant event in the early days of the French Revolution.

The Third Estate (commoners) were locked out of the meeting of the Estates General (comprising the clergy, nobles and commoners). They then congregated at an indoor tennis court where they took the oath “not to separate and to reassemble wherever circumstances require until the constitution of the kingdom is established.” The pledge is known as Tennis Court Pledge and was intended to convey that political authority was derived from the people not the monarch.

Whatever the grievance the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh may have to the preponing of the session of the Assembly in locking the Assembly premises, the Chief Minister and Speaker behaved more like Kings rather than a constitutional functionaries.

Co-incidentally, the Estates General (from which the Commoners were locked out), like the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly which did not meet within the requisite time, was itself convened after a long lapse of time.In its meeting, again as in the case of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly, there was a dispute about the procedure to be followed in the meeting. And locking out lead eventually to Storming of Bastille – a prison which was a symbol of abuse of monarchy and ignited the French revolution. The equivalent of the “storming” is imposition of the President’s Rule in the instant case.

It is indeed a coincidence that we had the French Premier as our chief-guest on the day President’s Rule was imposed on Arunachal Pradesh.

I will take the usual banal comments of “murder of democracy” with a pinch of salt. The locking of the Assembly is a direct attack on a parliamentary system which has been recognised as a wholesome constitutional value. Coupled with the delay between two sessions of the Assembly it also clearly indicates a method of governance independent of the control of the constitution – unknown to our constitutional scheme – and consequential lapse into lawlessness which is the breakdown contemplated by Article 356. And the use of proceedings in court first to delay proving majority on the floor of the house and thereafter to insulate itself against any action warranted by subsequent conduct no matter how egregious it might be is itself subversion of the Constitution attacking as it does both democratic spirit and the conventions underlying the Constitution.