Expression of dissent in a democracy is accepted norm and Indian Constitution has given that freedom to differ on the policies and ideology of the government of the day. Whatever for the anger may be, there is a constitutional limit for the way to exhibition of dissent as it is to be done in civilised way. That freedom was not visualised by the constitution makers as an absolute one but was expected to be done in a peaceful way. The dictum that ‘liberty to swing your fist ends just where other person nose begins’ was reminded in many instances. Unfortunately the current crop of dissenters, including political dissenters, have thrown out all the decency to winds and are choosing highly violent means to express their dissent. Unfortunately the political parties which are in the opposition are egging the dissenters to go violently to suit their political agenda. This unprovoked violence and the mass mentality is bringing disrepute to the country to the democratic values and is also resulting in the loss of property and lives of the innocents. It is unfortunate that the land which gave the path of non-violence fighting to the world is now exhibiting the violent ways because of the shortsightedness of some of the political parties.
The violent protests across the country by the Congress leaders and cadre on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoning Rahul Gandhi for questioning are highly condemnable. In some of the incidents the police were manhandled by the Congress leaders and there were attempts to gatecrash in to the Raj Bhavan premises. There are incidents where the houses of leaders of ruling BJP were attacked. The house of deputy CM in Bihar was attacked. In other places to stone pelting was reported on the BJP leaders. In another incident in Kerala the Congress which is demanding the resignation of the CM Vijayan has crossed the limit when it planned and encouraged its cadre to board the flight where the CM is travelling from Kannur to state capital Thiruvananthapuram and in the midflight rushed to the seat of CM and heckle him and if possible physically attack him. This resulted in violent fight between CPI(M) and Congress where the houses of the leaders and party offices of those two parties are under attack. This all-out fight, a wrong way of expression of their demand is escalating the tension in already politically charged Kerala.
The burning of railway property by the youth in about ten states opposing the Agnipath policy of Central Government’s short-term recruitment policy for the armed forces is another classic example of violent dissent without understanding the full implication of the new policy. That Indian youth who are aspiring to join army and serve many more years rather than the very short term of four years under the proposed Agnipath has taken up the criminal action of burning the national property and thus damaging their job prospects of the future itself is unbelievable. The violent actions of the youth in their dissent against Agnipath policy certainly has the backing of the political parties.
The burning of railway property by the youth in about 10 States opposing the Agnipath policy of Central Government’s short-term recruitment policy for the armed forces is another classic example of violent dissent without understanding the full implication of the new policy
The violent protests against what BJP spokesperson Nupur Sarma said in the TV debate is another example of negativism in democratic dissent. The dissenters should have debated on facts instead of picking up stones to pelt. Whether what Nupur said was out of context or the falsehood? If she uttered a falsehood, she should be countered with the truth and that was not done by any scholar. It all boiled down that a particular historical person can’t be criticised or his life events can’t be quoted even when they are available in books just because they revere that person. We are not living in Middle Ages where people were beheaded for alleged blasphemies but this is an era of enlightened academic research, debate where facts are placed before the people to judge and follow basing on their will. Unfortunately, the liberals of India, who always talk about freedom of expression and stands by questioning of religious dogmas, chose to support the religious fanatic groups and their violent means. This is not for the first time the liberal, secular, rationalists ducked when challenged by religious fanatics. The Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasrin was attacked by the MIM legislator and his supporter in the Hyderabad press club the liberals went into silence. The absence of courage in condemning and tackling the fanatic groups and their violence by the democratic liberals in India is damaging the liberal expression tradition of Indian society.
The motivated violent dissent supported by the Congress and other opposition parties is evident in India after Modi took over the reins of the country. The frustration of their rejection by the voters in the successive elections is reflected in the violent they themselves exhibit and encourage other to turn violent. This is evident in the violence that broke in the street of Delhi during the anti-CAA demonstrations especially on the day then American President Donald Trump landed as a guest in India. The political spectrum of Congress and the Leftists are there behind the violence that was planned to erupt during the farmers’ agitation in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.
Violence in any form is against the democratic decency. But the regional parties which are controlled by leaders dictatorially are encouraging their cadre to take up violent means of not only protests but even murderous attacks on the political opponents. The classic example is the state of Bengal where the writ of Mamata Banerjee rules. Both BJP and Congress leaders convoys were attacked, damaged the vehicles through the stones pelted. Unfortunately, in the officially sponsored violence in Bengal not even the state governor, the first citizen of the state, was spared. That shows the lowest depth to which democratic decency can be taken down by these dictators ruling the states as CMs. The Telangana CM, KCR is no better when it comes to sponsoring the violent attacks on the political opponents and using the police force. The attacks on the state BJP President during his well-received padayatra by the TRS cadre, with the support of KCR and filing of cases on the BJP legislators on the flimsy ground is well documented. In the dictatorial territory of KCR the police are blind actors of political guidance emanating from KCR’s family.
What these political leaders, now encouraging the violence and destruction of the railway or some other governmental properties, forgetting that it is the national property which is destroyed in the mindless orgy. Any loss will accrue to the nation, they should also know, and not to BJP or Narendra Modi. Moreover, they should, as true democrats, know that power in democracy changes every five years and it is people who ultimately choose basing on the performance of parties. The violent street performance of party cadre and leaders can never be taken as a real political activity by the voters. The opposition parties’ directionless, failed leadership is a bane to the country and voters should understand that.