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Mockery of democracy

Mockery of democracy

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 1, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/166504/Mockery-of-democracy.html

Varun is no threat to national security

If there were any doubts as to whether the cases against Mr Varun Gandhi were politically motivated, Monday's developments should put them to rest. In what could be best described as a blow to those out to malign Mr Gandhi and deny him a fair chance to prove himself innocent, a court in Pilibhit - his constituency for the coming Lok Sabha election - granted the young BJP leader bail in both the cases that were lodged against him for his alleged 'communal' speeches made earlier last month. However, Mr Gandhi continues to remain unfairly confined to an eight-by-six-feet cell and deprived of his liberty because the Uttar Pradesh Government has booked him under the draconian National Security Act. In other words, had the NSA not been invoked against Mr Gandhi, the courts saw no reason why he could not be a free man. Yet, he is forced to remain behind bars, most unfairly so, until his case comes up for hearing before an NSA advisory board. And in case the board rules against him, the BSP regime could then actually hold him in detention for up to a year without trial. This is simply amazing, not least because the grounds for which Mr Gandhi has been booked under the NSA - disruption of public order and peace - are frivolous and untenable. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that the BJP candidate for Pilibhit Lok Sabha constituency was directly responsible for these alleged offences. This, combined with the fact that he has been granted bail in the cases that started the entire controversy, only proves that there is no perceivable reason to treat Mr Gandhi as 'an enemy of the state'. To do so amounts to gross misuse of the law.

Anybody who values natural justice and freedom would condemn the incarceration of Mr Gandhi. To his credit, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is no friend of either the BJP or Mr Gandhi, has chosen to speak out and forthrightly condemn the BSP dispensation for resorting to such means against its political foes. It is evident from the SP's response that the BSP is playing a dangerous game to polarise the voters of Uttar Pradesh and swing the votes of Muslims in its favour. Two points need to be made in this context. First, the strategy behind such politics seeks to split society along communal lines. To that extent, the BSP is guilty of indulging in crude vote-bank politics. Second, the long-term effects of such politics can only be ruinous.

There is a third aspect: The Varun Gandhi episode has brought to the fore the political bias of the Election Commission. Today, we are faced with a situation wherein the Election Commission finds it perfectly normal to pass strictures against a candidate without bothering to either collect conclusive evidence against him or giving him a fair chance to defend himself. Also, parties in power have no qualms about misusing the state machinery and abusing laws to further their political aims by unfairly hobbling political opponents. This strikes at the very fundamentals of a free and fair poll. Elections are meant to provide the people with an opportunity to elect their representative. In BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, politicians in power and their cronies in the administration are loath to allow the people this freedom. That's a shame and a pity.

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