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...April 30th a litmus test for all our Political Parties

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  • shajijohnk
    The Lok Sabha debate on April 30 is a litmus test for all our political parties and MPs regarding their commitment to and understanding of secular Indian
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2002
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      The Lok Sabha debate on April 30 is a litmus test for all our
      political parties and MPs regarding their commitment to and
      understanding of secular Indian nationalism.
      ===============================================================================================================TIMES OF INDIA EDITORIAL
      Question Time

      [ MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2002 12:52:20 AM ]

      The Lok Sabha debate on April 30 is a litmus test for all our
      political parties and MPs regarding their commitment to and
      understanding of secular Indian nationalism.

      It's also a poser about the role of Union government under Article
      355, in respect of "security of states faced with threats of internal
      disturbance and external subversion leading to internal disturbance".

      Finally, the debate is about the need to appreciate that the ideals
      of secularism and national integration can no longer be taken for
      granted but have to be promoted pro-actively. Contrary to the BJP's
      rhetoric, the debate is neither about the dismissal of Narendra Modi
      regime in Gujarat nor a lack of confidence in the Vajpayee
      government.

      These red herrings have been drawn to obfuscate the real issues and
      give an opportunistic way out to smaller NDA constituents to reduce
      the debate on a national crisis to the level of partisan politicking.

      Gujarat is a watershed in the country's history and represents a
      threat graver than even the demolition of the Babri masjid. The alibi
      put forward by BJP leaders from the prime minister down that the mob
      killings from February 28 onwards were a reaction to the Godhra
      massacre illustrates what is wrong with this country and its
      administration.

      To begin with, the failure of the Gujarat government to anticipate
      the outrage. Then its criminal negligence in limiting the damage, by
      bringing the guilty to book and preventing "revenge" killings of
      innocents.

      The proverbial last straw has been the cynical attempts to "justify"
      the mob killings and administrative collapse.

      What the post-Godhra events have shown is that India's secularism is
      not strong enough to withstand the shock of a barbaric act. Aside
      from intelligence failure, the Central government abdicated its
      constitutional duty by not invoking Article 355 against the Modi
      regime.

      The Gujarat happenings were not communal `riots' any more than 1984
      Delhi riots were. If the ruling party's thesis — that Gujarat mob
      violence was a justifiable reaction to the horrific train tragedy at
      Godhra — were to be accepted then it would amount to the shocking
      admission that India is vulnerable not only to such barbarism but
      also a horrific aftermath which is sure to hurt it economically,
      socially, politically and internationally.

      Clearly, such a stand does not speak highly of our leadership and its
      understanding of national security.

      Gujarat has also brought out into the open the high price we have had
      to pay for the politicisation of Indian administrative and police
      services — a practice of which all parties have been guilty and
      continue to be so. From the time the republic came into being 52
      years ago, the political establishment has done little to nurture and
      promote secularism as a core value in a multi-cultural, multi-
      religious context.

      Instead, they have exploited it as a convenient political tactic to
      malign one another.

      The National Integration Council, a charade at the best of times, has
      been shown to be totally dysfunctional in the face of a grave
      national crisis.

      The time has come to appoint a national secularism panel, comprising
      ex-judges, constitutional experts and bipartisan public leaders, to
      make recommendations to promote, nurture and institutionalise
      secularism in our polity.

      The nation waits to see whether our parliamentarians can rise above
      petty politicking and, hopefully, demonstrate their nationalist
      commitment by not trivialising the debate.
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