AA Edit | Mr Gandhi: Indians will preserve democracy

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Mr Gandhi has been voicing his concern about the brutal attack on the structures of Indian democracy

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing the closing ceremony of Bharat Jodo Yatra, at Sher-i-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressing regret in London that democratic parts of the world, including the US and Europe, have failed to notice that a “large chunk of democracy has come undone” in India is wrong for too many reasons.

Mr Gandhi has been voicing his concern about the brutal attack on the structures of Indian democracy and the full-scale assault on its institutions of the country for quite some time now. Several of the examples he cited to buttress his argument have merit: that the press is under attack, as exemplified by the searches by the income-tax department on BBC; that people sitting in high constitutional positions question the principle of judicial review in an attempt to undermine the judiciary and that the minister for justice and law misses no chance to take pot shots at the judiciary and even to challenge it; that important Bills are passed in Parliament with little space for discussion and deliberation. The Election Commission of India is accused of toeing the government line when it announces election schedules.

But Mr Gandhi has forgotten two things: Indian democracy has survived worse before. And the so called ‘defenders of democracy’ have never ever helped democracies anywhere in the world, including India.

Indian Constitution and democracy came under the worst and most brutal attack under the Emergency declared by a Congress regime headed by Indira Gandhi. The government then denied the press its basic freedoms; handled judges of constitutional courts with vindictiveness; put Opposition leaders in jail under draconian laws and reduced Parliament and the Institution of President into rubber stamps. Fundamental rights were suspended.

But India survived; its democracy, too. Not because the so-called defenders of democracy intervened but the people of India who had “solemnly resolved to constitute India into a democratic republic”, and their inheritors, stood in queues and voted the government out. They also put in place a regime that made declaration of Emergency in future a difficult task. They defended Indian democracy, not foreign powers.  

The former president of the Congress will do well to go back to history and check how these ‘defenders of democracy’ have dealt with regimes opposed to them, including India. Despite its firm commitment to the cause of democracy, the US and the West were never sympathetic to India, and instead supported the neighbour which has been under martial law for most part of its existence. They propped up despots who put down even the weakest demands for democracy all over the world. They created and supported religious bigots wherever it suited them, even though some of them later turned out to be Frankensteins.  

Mr Gandhi recently undertook one of the most vibrant political activities of our times: a walk from the south to the north of India, covering more than 3,500 kms with a message to unite India against attempts to sow hatred and reap electoral dividends. He has said he met thousands of people who poured their hearts out to him. Mr Gandhi would rather trust those Indians in his efforts to resist the attacks on Indian democracy rather than the self-proclaimed champions of democracy.