For a day, last week, the communists and their fellow-travellers revived the memories of the pre-Emergency days of the early seventies. The communist leader and Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee almost brought the nation to the brink of a constitutional crisis of unfathomable consequences. He had to make a hasty retreat with the Congress ducking the issue right in time.
Nobody expected even a reaction from the Lok Sabha Speaker on a Supreme Court order, in the course of hearing a petition from the BJP leader Arjun Munda, on the conduct of the Jharkhand Governor, Syed Sibte Razi. The apex court, as also the President of India two days earlier, were only intervening to correct a blatant violation of laid-down procedures and constitutional proprieties. The court order came as a relief, a corrective, and a balm soothening the deep scar inflicted on democracy in quick succession by the gubernatorial charlatans, both in Goa and Jharkhand. The democratic polity would normally have welcomed the court order as a milestone strengthening the nation'scommitment to rule of law.
The CPM, which had always been accusing the Congress of misusing the office of the Governor to destabilise democratically-elected governments, surprisingly played active cohorts when it came to UPA action in the BJP-ruled states. It was as if democracy was not for BJP and its allies.
The apex court'sintervention thus was only a slap on the face of all those who preached constitutional double standards when it came to protecting the democratic rights of the BJP. As a consequence, the celebration was confined to the NDA camp.
Somnath Chatterjee'srole has to be seen in this light. He was only acting more loyal than the king, when he pointed fingers at the apex court. Immediately after the court order on March 9, the communist journos in the national press became active, highlighting the great moral indignation in the UPA ranks, on the alleged trespassing by the judiciary on legislative business. Pray, what was the court supposed to do, when a grievance of such flagrant violation of democratic and constitutional practice was brought before them for relief?
The communists may not understand, especially the Stalinist variety to which the CPM brigade, the Speaker included, belong. For them by practice there can only be the central committee and the gulag between the people and the government. A captive press, captive judiciary and a selected legislature complete the communist-style democracy. The communists, when they fought the election and came to form a government democratically after Independence for the first time in the world in Kerala, their leader said, ?We will wreck the bourgeoisie Constitution from within. This democracy is a sham; we will create a new world by simultaneously running the government and class struggle.? That soon the comrades became a tool of the sham democracy is another matter.
Communists want judiciary only for delivering selective justice. A pliable judiciary is what they want. And that is the danger lurking behind Somnath Chatterjee'sanxiety to seek the presidential reference on this issue. Luckily for the Congress, it did not fall into their trap. That is why the wily Somnath Chatterjee is fuming, ?I don'tcare, I don'tcare for the government.?
Some even say the Left is fed up with the UPA. They are looking for a chance to pull out. Others say, they want to push Congress to such an extreme in the name of fighting communal forces, that the Congress will find itself a captive of their manipulation and enforce limited democracy. The path to Emergency is always laid in the company of the Left, denying civic rights and liberty to a segment of the population whom comrades brand as ?class enemies?.
The sooner the Congress realises the danger the communists pose, the better for itself and the nation.