Posted by Rachit Seth on Friday 11 December, 2015 Hits:150
The National Herald Case is a vicious cocktail of political vendetta, assault on institutions and subverting federalism. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ‘Vendetta’ as “a very long and violent fight between two families or groups” or “a series of acts done by someone over a long period of time to cause harm to a disliked person or group”.
Political vendetta, simply put is a fight between two political parties. It is no secret that when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat he made sure that anyone who raised a voice against him be crushed- be it his own party men like Keshubhai Patel or Haren Pandya or Sanjay Joshi; or be it the opposition. He even did not spare the constituents of his own Sangh Parivar like VHP’s Praveen Togadia.
There is a legal aspect to the National Herald, but more importantly there is a deeper political aspect which has not been clearly understood as yet. There is no iota of doubt that the case was filed by Mr Subramanian Swamy way back in 2012, when he was not even a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Arun Jaitley in his latest blog calls him a ‘private citizen’, but this is hardly true. He has been consistently supportive of the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and later merged his miniscule Janata party with the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2013. He is now the member of BJP’s Central Committee. Between August 15, 2015 to August 31 2015, Swamy addressed atleast 15 meetings in the United States and sang eulogies in favour of Mr. Modi. It is important to note that ED Director Mr Rajan S Katoch who was handling the case and had contended to close the case was unceremoniously removed overnight. Mr. Swamy then claimed that the ED Director was removed on his complain.
It is important to note how BJP former Union Minister & Spokesperson, Shri Shahnawaz Hussain held a press conference in BJP headquarter in Delhi minutes after the High Court ruling when the judgment itself had not been released by the Delhi Court till then? (It was finally released at 6.30 PM on 7th December, 2015). This, too, smacks of perverse enthusiasm of BJP in support of Subramanian Swamy as also in politicizing a High Court order.
Mr Arun Jaitley, who now calls the Congress to find an exit of their own created ‘Chakravyuh’ himself in a TV interview, in August 2014 itself that the case was ‘prima facie strong’ If there was no intention of any kind of vendetta then why did the Finance Minister made such a statement? He himself claims that the ED has not sent any notices, yet he proclaims Congress prima facie guilty?
There are several instances of the Modi Government targeting Congress leaders, Modi government raided the premises of Leader of Opposition & Narendra Modi’s bete noire, Shankar Sinh Vaghela, purely with a view to humiliate him. Senior most Chief Minister in India, Himachal Chief Minister – Virbhadra Singh was raided by CBI at a time when his daughter was getting married. When nothing was found, a second case by Enforcement Directorate has been registered against him. Similarly, a case was heaped upon Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Chief, Sachin Pilot as also former Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot as a counter blast to the ‘Modigate’ Scandal and ‘Mining Scam’ of Rajasthan. Similar FIRs were lodged by CBI in Haryana and Chhattishgarh against Congress leaders. Even other opponents of Modi government were not spared.
At least, three dozen cases including sedition have been registered against Hardik Patel in Gujarat. Over 20,000 criminal cases have been registered against Patidars in Gujarat. Other political parties and other opposition leaders have been similarly targeted in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc.
The Modi Government has seemed to adopt a two pronged strategy to target the opposition. First, target the opposition ruled states especially the Congress ones. Secondly, do not co-operate with them.
The Congress party governs 5 North Eastern states. There has been a consistent effort on the part of the Modi Government to reduce funds and scrapping special schemes meant for them. North-East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy 2007 was scrapped by the Government. The Government has also scrapped the ‘special category status’ to hill states. 7 out of 11 such states are Congress governed states. The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BGRF) has also been scrapped. Half the country is reeling under drought; Maharashtra and Karnataka are facing severe crises. In Bundelkhand, people are living on grass. The Karnataka Chief Minister and the Agriculture Minister had atleast 6 meetings with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, yet there Centre has not released a single penny. Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh in Parliament contended that there have been many teams which have visited such states, but Centre is yet to release funds.
Modi Government trumpets a lot about ‘co-operative federalism’, yet in several opposition government states it is adopting the policy of non-co-operation. Until the Bihar elections, there was a public tussle between the AAP Government in Delhi and Centre on virtually every issue. Even after the formation of the new Government in Bihar, stories in the media suggest that adequate funds for road construction and development works have not been released by the Centre.
Assault on independent institution is the third ingredient of the vicious cocktail of political vendetta which this Government has unleashed on the opposition. The Government had the gumption to publically challenge the decision of the division bench of the Supreme Court by describing it as ‘tyranny of the unelected’. None less than the Finance Minister of the Government did so. One of the first salvos of the Modi Government after coming to power was on the Judiciary when the National Judicial Appointment Commission was not established.
When the Honourable Supreme Court of India pronounced the Judgement on the NJAC- the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that this judgement was based on ‘erroneous logic’. “Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger. Are not institutions like the Election Commission and the CAG credible enough even though they are appointed by elected governments?” Mr. Jaitley asked.
The appointment of reputed lawyer, Gopal Subramanium to Supreme Court was stalled because he had once appeared against BJP President and Shri Modi’s key aide Shri Amit Shah. This was a sheer obstructive attempt to undermine the independence of judiciary by the Modi Government.
Prime Minister again warned the judiciary to be not influenced by five star activists bringing into question the most important innovation in judicial history i.e. Public Interest Litigation by spirited citizens in public interest.
This systematic denigration to brow beat judiciary does not bode well for democracy.
The Bihar elections acted as a catalyst for the Modi Government to gradually fulfill its dream of ‘Vipaksh Mukt Bharat’- but the people of India are more intelligent.