March 25, 2009 12:21:51 am
The lead editorial in the latest issue of CPM mouthpiece Peoples Democracy criticises the BJP for adopting a law will take its course stand with regard to the Varun Gandhi issue. It says if the BJP has any modicum of political morality left in it,it should immediately withdraw the candidature of Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit Lok Sabha constituency for the crass communal venom that he spewed in his election meetings.
Both the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of the People Act,1951 are unambiguously clear that promoting communal disharmony or seeking votes on the grounds of candidates religion are corrupt political practices. The Indian Penal Code,irrespective of whether elections are taking place or not,lists in Section 153A as a cognisable offence: Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,race,place of birth,residence,language etc.,and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years,or with fine,or with both.
Since a criminal case has been registered,the BJP now seeks to let the law take its course. This will not do. As can be seen from the famous disenfranchisement of the Shiv Sena chief,Bal Thackeray,who was removed from the electoral rolls for six years and prohibited from contesting any election during this period,the process for the law to take its course is,indeed,very long, it says.
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Bal Thackeray was charged with similar vilification and spreading communal poison in the Vileparle Assembly by-elections in 1987. The punishment for the offence of making inflammatory speeches came finally only in 1999 when the Supreme Court upheld an order of the Bombay High Court finding Bal Thackeray guilty of inciting hatred among religious communities during his election speeches. In the current instance,Varun Gandhis crass communal inflammatory utterances cannot wait to be buried under such a long time for the law to take its course. The charges of doctoring the videos made by Varun Gandhi are negated by the material available on electronic media like Youtube, the editorial says.
While the law must take its course,it is for the BJP to clear its credentials before the electorate by withdrawing Varun Gandhis candidature,it says,and accuses the BJP of moving in the direction of sharpening communal polarisation hoping for electoral benefits.
The limits of two
An article by CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat claims that the Third Front has finally become a reality,dramatically confirming the CPMs consistent view that politics in India cannot be straitjacketed into a two-party system. Although the ruling classes of our country would like politics to revolve around a choice between two political parties,both of which represent their interests,this has proved impossible in practice. Both the major all-India bourgeois parties are unable to command a mass base and the support of the people in significant parts of the country, he says.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,the Congress and the BJP together cannot claim to represent even one-third of the seats to the Lok Sabha. In state after state,either the Congress or the BJP represents a minority force,he says noting that the emergence of a viable non-Congress,non-BJP combination has caused consternation in the Congress and the BJP camps.
Attacking senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee for stating that the Third Front does not have a programme,he reminded him that neither the Congress has made a joint programme with its elusive ally Samajwadi Party nor the UPA has a common manifesto to boast of. The Congress,the RJD,the NCP and the DMK are all bringing out separate manifestos. So why is Pranab Mukherjee concerned about a common programme for the parties of the third front? Why did not the Congress consider a joint programme with its elusive ally,the Samajwadi Party? he says. Both the Congress and the BJP are on shaky ground when they termed the third front as an unstable and unviable alliance. The reality is that both the UPA and the NDA are not durable alliances and that their fragility has come to the fore in the recent period, he adds. The article says that the Congress declaration that it has no national level alliance has undermined the very basis of the UPA. In turn,it has freed the UPA allies to look for different electoral partners in various states. Some of the non-Congress partners of the UPA are signalling that alignments will change according to the post-poll situation, he says.
Compiled by J.P. Yadav
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