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The slaughter of democracy in Puducherry

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The slaughter of democracy in Puducherry
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V Narayanaswamy, who resigned following loss of majority in Puducherry assembly (file photo)

"Beyond laws and rules, democracy is embedded in our sanskaar [tradition]; democracy is our culture. Democracy is our heritage." thus spake prime minister Narendra Modi, addressing his monthly Mann ki baat at the start of his second term. The overthrow of the Narayanaswamy government in Puducherry is the latest proof of how the BJP government treats the democratically-elected opposition-led state governments since the BJP came to power in 2014. I n the Assembly elections of 2016, many who contested on BJP tickets lost miserably, some even without getting back their deposit. In the 33-member assembly, Congress leader Narayanaswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister with the support of 19 MLAs. But the BJP's tricks to create a Congress-free India is blatant and obvious. Needless to say, the overthrow, made by hijacking members of the legislature, threatening them using the central government's agencies like income tax, ED and CBI, and offering positions have been successfully carried out in Karnataka, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh and now, Puducherry.

The conspiracies that started with the abrupt removal of the former police chief and saffron brigade loyalist Kiran Bedi from the Lt. Governor post has now reached their climax. With Tamilisai Soundararajan, the former BJP president and Telangana Governor, being given additional charge of Puducherry, the BJP is set to face the upcoming elections in a matter of weeks. One must not forget how Amit Shah managed to overthrow the DMK-INC front: by exploiting the loophole of Puducherry being a Union Territory allowing for the nomination of three lawmakers (two of those chosen had even lost their deposits), and then using the speaker to especially grant these three the right to vote in the floor test. In such a background, how can one be sure that the assembly election will be free and fair. What is to follow is a fiesta wherein large amounts of black money will flow freely, the anti-BJP fronts will be severely suppressed, and those who are influential in any way in the society will be goaded into entering the fray. AIADMK is already with the BJP. Besides, machinations are already under way to gather every one they can from outside.

The question that naturally arises is whether the DMK-Congress alliance has the stamina to overcome this challenge. The Congress has not exhibited the ability to understand the depths of the crisis or prove its resilience not only in Puducherry, but in any part of the country. A Namasivayam, who was also the Puducherry Congress Convenor, had led the party during the elections. However, when the party won the election was formed the ministry, he was out of the list- Narayanaswamy, who had not even contested, snatched the post of Chief Minister. The resulting infighting culminated in the resignation and jumping over of five Congress MLAs. There is no guarantee that this history will not be repeated. As long as there is no real stalwart for the AICC, the crisis will only deepen further.

It is evident that in the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, the cause of defeat was not the public deserting the Congress but the leaders betraying and misusing the party. The DMK, seemingly tired of its ally's weakness, is considering fighting independently in Puducherry. It is at a critical stage when all secular parties ought to join hands against the Modi-Amit Shah duo, bereft of any qualms about slaughtering democracy, that the Congress, which claims to be the largest secular party in the country is afflicted with this decay. If it decides not to learn from defeat after defeat, what could one say about the "main opposition" party?

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TAGS:Puducherry Congress govt fall BJP plot Centre 
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