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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Murder of democracy, says Gehlot on Delhi Bill

Speaking to The Sunday Express, Ashok Gehlot said that India’s image has taken a hit globally, and that people who matter are opting to make calls on WhatsApp or FaceTime because they fear their phones could be tapped by the Centre.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
March 28, 2021 4:00:24 am
Ashok Gehlot

PUBLICLY lending his weight to the Aam Aadmi Party-led protests that the new law undermines its elected Delhi government, Rajasthan Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot Saturday said the passage of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 by Parliament last week was a “murder of democracy” and that, in the future, the Narendra Modi government could bring such laws in states where it loses electorally.

Speaking to The Sunday Express, Gehlot also said that India’s image has taken a hit globally, and that people who matter are opting to make calls on WhatsApp or FaceTime because they fear their phones could be tapped by the Centre.

In a series of tweets earlier in the day, he wrote, “The GNCTD Act passed by Modi government to curtail the rights of the Delhi government is murder of democracy. Abolishing the power of an elected government is against the spirit of democracy. Earlier, the Supreme Court had clearly ruled that the elected government is the real head of Delhi.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal responded tweeting: “Thank you for supporting the people of Delhi against the Centre’s unconstitutional Bill, Gehlot ji. The Indian republic’s Constitution and democracy are of prime importance. Our struggle to restore power back to people will continue.”

Calling for Opposition unity on the issue, Gehlot wrote: “The Modi government wants to run the country in a fascist manner. Electoral malpractices, horse trading of elected MLAs, and when failing in both, it resorts to passing such a dictatorial Bill on the strength of its majority in Parliament. This is how the Modi government rules. If it goes on like this, in the time to come, the Modi government can abolish the powers of the state government by bringing such laws if BJP loses election in any state. This dictatorial decision of the Modi government should be opposed at the national level by rising above party lines.”

The GNCTD Bill was passed in Parliament earlier this week amid a pushback by Opposition parties, especially in the Upper House. As many as 12 Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha and nine in Lok Sabha had opposed the Bill.

The Bill curtails the powers of the elected government significantly and makes it mandatory for all decisions to be routed through the Lieutenant Governor, who is nominated by the Centre.

Speaking to The Sunday Express, Gehlot further said: “There is pressure on all agencies — be it the CBI, Income Tax or Enforcement Directorate… The activities taking place in BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh, and the way the Union Home Ministry is functioning…. pressuring and scaring all agencies… The atmosphere in the country has become such that people are afraid of talking on mobile phones… people are preferring WhatsApp or FaceTime… you talk to anyone, they say let’s talk on FaceTime…

“If this is the feeling in the country… the people who matter in the country — be it politicians, industrialists or social workers — if they feel that perhaps their telephones are being tapped… you can think… Modi ji pata nahi kis roop main kar rahe hain ye… he is running the government against the basic spirit of the country… he wants to advance the agenda of the RSS-BJP by hook or crook,” he said.

Incidentally, Gehlot’s own government earlier this month confirmed that it had “intercepted” phones — eight months after “leaked” phone conversations between a Union Minister and Congress leaders in Rajasthan triggered a political crisis in the state. The confirmation was posted on the website of the Rajasthan Assembly in reply to a question asked of the government during the House session of August 2020.

Gehlot also spoke against misuse of the sedition law: “How can you term dissent and criticism of the government, which is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, as sedition? Freedom of expression is a fundamental right… you arrested a 22-year-old girl (Disha Ravi) from Bengaluru (in the farmer protest toolkit case)… India’s image has taken a hit globally.”

He also said that the people of Bengal should defeat the BJP in the assembly elections, “otherwise they will get a license to destroy the country”.

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