RIDICULING THE Congress’s “Save Constitution” campaign, BJP president Amit Shah hit out at the main Opposition party for launching an “impeachment” bid against the Chief Justice of India, describing it as “part of a larger trend to demonise and weaken every institution that seeks to maintain its individual identity and not kowtow to the dynasty.”
Within an hour of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejecting the impeachment bid, Shah took to Facebook and alleged that the Congress had taken “the only path it knows very well — of spreading hate and divisions in our society”. Shah’s remarks were echoed by other party leaders including Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and spokespersons Meenakshi Lekhi and Sambit Patra. The Shiv Sena and the JD(U), too, criticised the Opposition for its impeachment bid.
In his post, Shah took on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who had attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a public address earlier. “It is becoming increasingly clear that their Modi hatred is fast turning into India hatred. Blinded by disdain for the Prime Minister, they are using the choicest of words and phrases to show India in bad light,” he wrote. In an apparent reference to last week’s Supreme Court judgment rejecting pleas seeking a probe into the death of CBI judge B H Loya, Shah said “everyone knows” the reasons behind the impeachment move. Loya was hearing the the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case in which Shah had been discharged.
“The judiciary, which is an institution that is trusted by 125 crore Indians, has invited the wrath of Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in particular,” wrote Shah. Union Law Minister Prasad accused the Congress of trying to “run the country through the corridors of court based upon false, half-baked and a sponsored litigation.” “In fact, this (impeachment attempt) is directly proportionate to repeated reversals they have suffered from people of India. Under the patronage of the Congress party even the unfortunate death of a judicial officer nearly four years ago was made into a petition tool for settling political scores inside and outside court,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Lekhi welcomed Nadu’s decision and said the Rajya Sabha chairman had “applied his mind and gave a detailed order”. Senior government officials said the four senior Supreme Court judges, who had gone public against the functioning of the CJI in an unprecedented press conference in January, should stay out of the issue. “If perceived personal interest is the reason being cited for CJI not hearing the petition that Congress members seek to file against the Rajya Sabha chairman’s dismissal of their impeachment notice, the same logic should ideally apply to the other four most senior judges for the simple reason that there is reference to the issues raised by them in a press conference,” said a senior official.
The view within the government is that the CJI remains the master of the roster and should discharge his duty in assigning an appropriate Bench if the Congress appeals against Naidu’s order. However, they hoped the CJI would not list it before his own Bench. Terming the Congress’ Constitution campaign as “ironical and comical”, Shah alleged that “there is one political party that has trampled over the Constitution in letter and spirit, time and again, it is the Congress Party”. He said the Congress had attacked the Army repeatedly, targetted the Chief of Army Staff and dragged the armed forces into a political slugfest during the UPA regime.
Shah said the Congress had also launched a tirade against the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) when the country was witnessing a “grand awakening against the corruption” of its government, and has now trained its guns on the Election Commission by questioning the sanctity of the polling process after facing repeated defeats. “Time changes, the context changes but the means as well as the ends remain the same — discredit any institution that comes in the way of furthering the rule of the dynasty,” the BJP president alleged.
Shah recalled the dismissal of several Opposition-ruled state governments by different Congress governments at the Centre, including those headed by former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. At a time when the Opposition is targeting the BJP over its alleged anti-Dalit decisions and the increasing incidents of violence against Dalits, the BJP chief accused Rahul Gandhi of humiliating Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar with his claim that the Congress made the Constitution.
“It is well known how Pandit Nehru personally ensured the defeat of Dr Ambedkar in not one but two elections”, Shah said. “It is also no coincidence that in 1997, the year Sonia Gandhi took the primary membership of the Congress, the Third Front government backed by it took away promotional benefits of SC/ST employees,” he said, adding that it was the subsequent A B Vajpayee government that amended the Constitution to ensure justice. The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, made a strong pitch for maintaining the independence and dignity of the judiciary. “As it is, our party has not played any role in the impeachment issue. However, we believe that the dignity of the judiciary must be respected and protected,” said the Sena’s parliamentary party leader Sanjay Raut.
JD (U) secretary-general KC Tyagi criticised the Congress “for using the Constituional provision for an impeachment for the character assassination of the CJI”. “The manner in which Kapil Sibal of the Congress has publicly attacked the CJI by giving the impeachment notice advance publicity is unprecedented,” he said. Describing the Congress decision to observe a Constitution Day as “amusing”, Tyagi reminded people that the same party had trampled upon the Constitution in 1977, jailed its political opponents and “finished the fundamental rights of citizens”. “It had no moral right to talk of protecting the Constitution,” he said.