Mainstream, VOL LIII No 6, January 31, 2015 - Republic Day Special
Saturday 31 January 2015, by
The country has observed its sixtysixth Republic Day across our vast landmass today with the prospect of uncertainty looming large over the national scene.
Elements which were hitherto in the fringes of our polity, unabashedly espousing majoritarian communalism, have suddenly captured the centre-stage following the Narendra Modi-led BJP’s resounding victory at the hustings eight months ago and are engaged in making all kinds of divisive statements that have caused justifiable concern not only among minorities but also all secular democrats pledged to defend our hard-won independence and protect the Constitution we had given ourselves sixtyfive years ago. The unalloyed truth is that both are under attack from those elements who enjoy the benign indulgence of the PM in South Block; even if the latter has occasionally conveyed, for public consumption, his displeasure at their utterances and activities, he has scrupulously avoided taking any deterrent action against them whereby he could have sent the unambiguous message that their diversionary and destructive steps will not be countenanced by the authorities currently holding the reins of power at the Centre. The irrefutable fact is that he can‘t as he doesn’t want to do so since he happens to be an integral part of those very elements judging from his past record. Therein lies the real danger of uncertainty. This did not happen at the time of the Atal Behari Vajpayee dispensation in 1998-99 and 1999-2004 when the RSS-controlled BJP was not in government on its own strength and had to remain content by heading the NDA coalition ruling the state.
The country faces many challenges on the political, economic, social fronts. The fruits of independence have yet to reach large sections of our populace who continue to live in utter penury and destitution despite the growth of a burgeoning middle class in the last few years and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. But in the present scenario the challenge of communal violence springing from the misdeeds of the Sangh Parivar take precedence over all other problems afflicting the nation.
Indeed the Modi Government’s behaviour is bound to cause social disharmony and communal conflicts unless spirited resistance to these moves is organised by the Opposition forces as well as those wedded to secular democracy. If left unchecked these moves can inflict grievous harm on the polity, damage the Constitution beyond repair and destroy the values and principles that constitute the bedrock of our Republic. The anti-Pakistan jingoism let loose in society by vested interests, including influential sections of the media, also highlights the same threat of uncertainty in the days ahead.
This being the grim reality, unity of secular democrats of every shade to mount the aforementioned resistance is the need of the hour. We cannot and must not remain passive onlookers to the dismantling of the very ethos of our independent nationhood and Republican structure brick by brick, a process that has already begun with the onslaught of the fissiparous elements on our pluralist ideals.
The time has come for all of us to stand on guard in defence of our Constitution and the Republic. That is the message of this Republic Day.
January 26 S.C.