POMPOUS Union Minister Kapil Sibal makes statements that hurt his party more than the intended target. “Zero loss” Sibal attacked the BJP as “Fascist” for not allowing the Parliament to function on the Coal Scandal. If that is Fascism, no party in India is above reprove. Let me start with the assertion that no democrat having faith in parliamentary system can justifiably question the premise that Parliament’s job is to discuss and debate issues of national import, legislate and scrutinise the government policies and their implementation. Yet, disruptions do take place— some on vital national issues and others to serve petty political interests.
The Congress Party’s track record on disruptions is most ignoble. In 1991, Congress— the party supporting the minority Chandra Shekhar government from outside—stalled the Parliament over the frivolous issue of two Haryana CID personnel found gathering information from outside Rajiv Gandhi’s residence. The Prime Minister refused to take insults lying down and resigned. That led to a mid-term poll. During the NDA rule, the Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh stalled the Parliament on countless occasions on one excuse or the other.
BJP – the party in waiting – can’t afford to stall the Parliament beyond a point as it might be counter-productive. The party says it had compelling reasons to disrupt Parliament. CAG’s indictment of the Government on coal mine allocation had outraged the people and shaken whatever faith they had in the Government. Media reports indicated the scam reached the top in the Government and the party. Insensitivity and arrogance of the Government that has been shown to be thoroughly corrupt, the party says, left with no other option but to send across the message to the masses that this Government had no right to continue in office. Instead of ordering an independent enquiry and suspension, if not cancellation, of shady allotments of mines – as demanded by the BJP and other Opposition parties – the Government attacked the Constitutional Authority and imputed motives to CAG.
Public sentiment was supportive of the BJP’s demand that the Prime Minister under whose watch the monumental fraud was perpetrated must take moral and constructive responsibility. Nothing of the sort happened leading to a near wash out of the monsoon session. Defending his party’s strategy, Arun Jaitley argues that sometimes stalling proceedings become necessary to force Government to take action. This strategy had paid dividends on 2G Scam when an entire winter session washed out. The result was prosecution and arrest of Raja and others and the orders to hold fresh auctions of spectrum. It appears that the party realised that a debate on Coal Scam would be a sham. The shouting brigade of the ruling alliance would engage the Opposition in a slanging match, drowning down the speeches by stalwarts on the Opposition benches. A vote after a noisy debate, they thought, would allow the feeble and incoherent government to claim that Parliament had approved its conduct.
Information about the shady deals that has surfaced so far shows that the fraud on the nation was committed under Prime Minister’s watch and with the full knowledge and concurrence of Sonia Gandhi. The story doing the round is that the system was manipulated to fill the Congress Party’s coffers. The discretionary and fraudulent allotment of mines, so the story goes, was made on cash-and-carry basis. The PMO would clear allotment if one were to produce a little chit from a certain source authorised by the de facto head of the government indicating that the tribute has been paid. Unfortunately, our mainstream media has imposed the worst kind of self-imposed censorship about anything critical of the dynasty though it is an open secret that no deal is through without clearance from 10, Janpath. For a change, a section of media is now making a mention of the real beneficiary of the fraud quoting sources in the Opposition. Well begun, they say, is half done.
Sibal’s Fascist comment is a self-goal. His party has zero credentials on democratic spirit and structure. It is being run as a family-business without a trace of democratic functioning. Indira Gandhi systematically destroyed the party structure by isolating and kicking out party leaders with mass base at the national and State levels. Loyalist with no minds of their own and without any mass base replaced the seasoned leaders to fortify the dynasty’s hold on the party. Aren’t these features of a Fascist gang masquerading as a political party? Imposition of Emergency in 1975 during which Democracy was given a burial and Fundamental Rights were denied to the citizens a crude Fascist action. If Sibal is a democrat, let him condemn crimes committed during the hated emergency. Promoting a small time leader Jagdish Tytler first as a Union Minister and then a permanent invitee to the Working Committee for having rendered a “great service” to the party by leading a gang of criminals to kill innocent Sikhs in 1984 is yet another manifestation of Fascist tendencies in the Congress. He was indicted by the Nanawati Commission for his role in anti-Sikh riots and has now been booked by the Odisha police for rioting and ruthlessly attacking a lady Police constable. He remains close to the dynasty.
To dub BJP as a Fascist party without reason or rhyme is itself a manifestation of in-built Fascism in the Congress party. BJP is “fascist” though it is known for its intra-party democracy that allowing ground level workers to emerge as top leaders. The party takes major policy and organisational decisions after wide ranging consultations and in-depth discussions in party forums. Of course, there are differences of opinion that sometimes get aired even publicly. They dub it as a party with differences but no one can justifiably claim that one man or one lady’s decisions are accepted in this party without a murmur. How so high a leader may be, he or she is subjected to the discipline of the party. No one in the party has unbridled powers and everyone is accountable. Congress on the other hand is a family business. Italian-born lady’s word is law in the party.
If Congress disrupts proceedings, it is its democratic right and in public interest, if the BJP does it, it is Fascist. If Congress imposes Emergency to curb civil rights and impose censorship, it is to save the nation from impending disaster. But if a little known cartoonist exposes massive corruption in the Government, it is sedition. These are the signs of Fascist regime.