Analysis

Biggest Victim of Nandigram


The lives lost in the Nandigram violence must have shattered many families. Hopefully their grief will pass. Time is a great healer. But will time heal the fatal damage to Indian democracy and Constitution that the Nandigram episode exposed? Nandigram revealed the cancerous rot afflicting the UPA alliance. The UPA alliance in turn exposed the cancerous rot spread by the comforting mantra that a coalition dharma is the answer to India's prayers for stability. Consider the conduct of the two major UPA partners ' Congress and the Left.

For months the Left ranted against the Indo-US Nuclear Deal as a treaty that would destroy India's independence, sovereignty and security. The Left proposed changing existing law by compelling governments to obtain parliamentary approval for all international treaties. Some Left leaders cited the US example where the American President must get treaties ratified by US Congress. But the US has a Presidential system where governments have fixed terms. India has a parliamentary system. So what happened to the much quoted Westminster model and conventions that MPs invoke whenever it suits them? If the N-Deal is all that evil the Left had the obvious democratic duty to withdraw support and remove the government to prevent progress on the deal. But the Left couldn't do that, could it? The coalition dharma was the good old fig leaf to cover its naked opportunism.

For eleven months the Nandigram crisis exposed the Left government's incapacity to enforce the rule of law in West Bengal. That no hope of law being restored became amply clear from the Chief Minister's outrageous remarks that betrayed ignorance about the basic norms of democracy. He kept harping on the actions of 'our people' and 'their people' to justify his government's failure to impose the rule of law. He implicitly endorsed armed action by CPI-M cadres as an appropriate substitute for police action. Does such a government deserve to hold office? If ever there was need for the Union government to dismiss a state government because law and order had broken down, this was the occasion. But the UPA government couldn't do that, could it? Coalition dharma was the fig leaf for naked abdication of duty. 

The Congress offered muted criticism of course. The PM described the Nandigram crisis as unfortunate. The CPI-M responded with threats on the N-deal. No doubt the mutual recrimination will mount. But will any party at any stage ever act according to the norms governing our democratic system? Fat chance! In this entire pathetic opera the most tragic victim will prove to be our democratic system. It is sinking so rapidly that its recovery remains in doubt. Is it not time therefore for searching diagnosis of our system and Constitution? 

28-Nov-2007

More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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