Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2023 > Communal Politics; Election Commission; Gaza | Humra Quraishi

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 50 December 9, 2023

Communal Politics; Election Commission; Gaza | Humra Quraishi

Saturday 9 December 2023, by Humra Quraishi


7 December 2023

I started writing this column yesterday late evening - 6 December. I do realize that years have passed by after the Babri Masjid demolition but that particular year and date cannot ever be erased or even side-tracked, as it’s the turning point in the recent history of the country. That demolition which took place on 6 December 1992, with the indirect or direct support of the Right-Wing forces within and outside the government, sowed the poisonous seeds of polarization and divisions. Thereafter, there’s been little peace and much decay, in terms of our everyday co-existence.

Today, of course, elections are fought and even won on the basis of communal politics and propaganda made to penetrate into the various segments and sections. Alas, when the realisation creeps in of the disasters linked and interlinked with this level of politics, it might prove to be late or let’s say too late! In fact, in Rajasthan, just a day or say hours after the BJP won in these recently held elections, there that gruesome murder of a prominent Rajput person in Jaipur and the following day one of the freshly elected BJP MLAs went around the city, ordering and threatening and rebuking all roadside vendors who were putting up carts or small shops along the roadside, selling the so-called “non-vegetarian food items”. Making sure that hundreds of our fellow citizens stand or squat jobless and penniless and at the complete mercy of the political doles or charity or manipulative schemes! It’s a different matter altogether that within hours this freshly elected person had to eat his own words. He took a complete U-Turn. In all probability he didn’t quite realize that a very large percentage of those vendors whom he was threatening to shut shop were non-Muslims. Ignorance coupled with the communal poisoning unleashed all around is not just lethal but based on myths and misconceptions and utter lies to cause frictions and hatred for the other. One of the widely unleashed propaganda Agenda items is that only and only Muslims consume or sell non-vegetarian stuff!

Don’t know what comes ahead, with the Right-Wing Agenda making further inroads and intrusions. I was just reading this well-detailed piece by S. N. Sahu (he was Officer on Special Duty to President of India K.R. Narayanan) on how Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had decades back foretold these dark realities would come up. To quote Sahu from his piece : “Seventy-seven years after Ambedkar’s passing away, his apprehensions that in the absence of any provision in the Constitution preventing the executive to appoint a foolish, knave or a pliable person as election commissioner or chief election commissioner – making the EC, in his words, “the thumb of the executive” – have come true. He said so in the Constituent Assembly on June 16, 1949, during the debates on the draft Article 289 (now Article 324) of the Constitution dealing with the EC…Has not the conduct of the EC in the conduct of elections to the aforementioned state assemblies testified to the apprehensions of Ambedkar that it would come under the thumb of the executive?”

Sahu goes on to detail, “When the Model Code of Conduct was in operation and election campaign was at its peak, the EC did not prevent the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh when it released money to the people under the Ladli Behena scheme. In contrast it prevented the Telangana government from releasing money to farmers under the Rythu Bandhu Scheme. It clearly proved the point that the standard employed by the EC for BJP state governments was not applied to the Telangana government. The glaring differentiation in applying one norm for the BJP-led government in MP and the non-application of the same norm for Telangana is evocative of the doctrine of differential rights often employed by the colonial rulers in India to discriminate against Indians and favour the whites who wielded power. It is tragic that the same doctrine is in operation in the action of EC, which in the words of Ambedkar has “come under the thumb of the executive”…The manner in which the EC only issued notices to some opposition leaders on the charge that they violated the MCC and completely ignored the complaints of opposition parties against BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for invoking religion for seeking votes clearly proved the point that the EC did not act impartially. It is in such tragic circumstances that Ambedkar’s cautionary words assume critical significance for summoning the collective energy for addressing the problem caused by the EC.”

Sahu also focuses on this vital factor: “On the solemn occasion of Ambedkar’s death anniversary, it is instructive to see in retrospect his draft Constitution for the United States of India. He prepared it in 1945 and submitted it to a sub-committee of the Constituent Assembly. Anticipating that minorities in India would be boycotted in the social and economic realms on account of the discrimination meted out to them because of their faith, he dealt with the issue very elaborately and provided a separate section under the captions “Provisions for the protection of minorities”, “protection against social boycott.”

Killings Continue in Gaza

What we are witnessing today is sheer genocide. Human killings ongoing from the last two months. What would remain of the Gaza stretch? Nothing very much…what, with thousands of Palestinians killed in bombardments, or imprisoned or hounded out of their very own homeland! Yet, the so called world leaders can sit smug or sleep through the night!

Ending this week’s column with this verse of the Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008).

He wrote ‘Under Siege’, a collection of poems on the Israeli invasion of the West Bank, in 2002 while he was under siege himself in Ramallah:
‘Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.’

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy|
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.