There is a complete disturbing stalemate over the dissents and protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protestors are not buzzing and protests are widening both in intensity and geographical spread in the country on the one hand and govt and ruling party’s attitude is becoming more and more offensive, rather at times abusive too on the other. Often from both sides rules of the prudent game is blatantly broken and there are glaring instances of hitting below the belt. Basic principles of public decency are seriously compromised and all of us – be it establishment or protestors or political parties or the liberal society or the media – seem to have taken entirely the wrong path and missing out a sense of civil society.
We have allowed and facilitated to take the protests largely communal lines, have abused each other in the name of fathers, forefathers and in the name of Halwa and Poha. In a country where kissing in public becomes indecent behaviour and even unlawful to a great extent, calling names in public have become so common. While protestors are not ashamed in involving small kids and senior ladies in the protests, the establishment side is doing everything to humiliate, demean and disparage them and a large section media, especially visual, is engaged in taking clear sides away from their role of being positive partners of facts and impartiality. We have just made our faces too ugly to even identify ourselves in the mirror of our conscience and wisdom.
Away from home too, we are fast losing our reputation of being a dynamic and vibrant democratic and sensible country and our friend countries too are now raising their eyebrows and becoming uncomfortable. Recently the European Union (EU) Parliament, who have largely been friendly with us, too have seen moving of as many as six resolutions against CAA and aftermath and our inept, rather bad and crude, handling of affairs. The resolutions, moved by as many as 625 of 751 members use too much harsh words like a ‘dangerous shift’ in citizenship granting, apprehending ‘largest stateless crisis in the world’. The discussions that will follow on them would surely attract headlines in world media embarrassing us hugely. The resolutions refer to Charter of United Nations as well as India – EU Partnership signed in 2005.
We, as usual, put up our brave face telling the issue being ‘entirely internal’ and the Act has been ‘adopted through democratic means’ after public discussions in the parliament. We may very well always choose to say so or look the other way or even rebuke all and tell aloud conceitedly that we and our democratically elected parliament will do whatever we deem fit for our country but fact remains that we are either members of these international organisations or have agreed to their ethos by agreements and covenants and given our historical proactive and exemplary postures, endeavours and roles in international forums and organisations on issues of individual liberties and human rights, we may not afford to let erase them all in this way. As a positive public opinion is good and encouraging for a govt, a good international opinion is essential for a country like us well poised to take good leaps of progress. True, many of these countries too, have their own citizenship issues but we also appear to have created our own trap. Till yesterday, we were never tiring telling everybody that with Narendra Modi we have been enhancing our stature and prestige in the world, very rightly so and suddenly today we may not allow it just to be ruined by such a small trivial issue which, in any way, is not that important for us. What, after all, will happen if we don’t have CAA? Our Citizenship Act is, anyway, already there taking care of citizenship issues!
No visible efforts are on way by any of us to defuse the situation and find a way ahead taking along most of us together. All of us have just been spectator; after all, some of us must come up initiate reconciliation and set the things right. All concerned have to shed a little bit of ego and try concentrate on core issues away from confusions, apprehensions and misgivings. Unfortunately, opposition parties are not being seen anywhere, rather all of them are fighting their own battles. While Congress state govts are on the way of passing resolutions against CAA, top central leaders like Kapil Sibbal, Salman Khurshid and Shashi Tharoor unequivocally assert that states do not have options not to follow the CAA. Other parties too are busy issuing statements only with no seriousness on the issue.
Therefore, they are not at all in a position to play mediators or offer their good offices. Parties of NDA too are busy in themselves and thus not in that position too. Nitish Kumar could have played the role but BJP does not have that trust on him.
In fact, BJP itself should take responsibility. In a parliamentary democracy, the ruling party has to play big and look big. If the govt is stuck up somewhere due to some reason, it is the party which should come up and rescue the govt. This serves as face-saving for the govt and guardianship role of the ruling party. BJP, fortunately, have lot many leaders away from the govt who are capable of reaching out to people and sorting out the issue. BJP also has a very good number of leaders from all the minorities groups and they may very well reach out to dissenters. But unfortunately, the party too is taking offensive postures. That is not appreciable. If the party feels that by taking aggressive postures it is helping out the govt, it is hugely mistaken.
Let there not be a prestige issue at all. The govt belongs to dissenters as well and it belongs to the people also who did not vote for it.
After all, with around 27 Crores votes the govt is supposed to take care of 135 Crores of countrymen and it is also supposed to take along most of them to become a popular govt of this liberal democratic country. Dissent management is an art and modern govts and political parties are supposed to be having expertise in practising this art. Besides, dissents and disagreements are the very spirit of democracy and resolving them has to be enjoyable for the ruling party. William Fulbright said, “In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects”.
And if the BJP really feels that the protestors are the misguided lot, as the leaders have been asserting, it becomes s all the more incumbent on its part to take charge and remove the misgivings. The party, if it feels so, make use of the assistance of opinion makers and social leaders too. In an interview to Times Now recently, Baba Ramdev has suggested that there should be a dialogue with the representatives of the protestors with the media too being present there. Talking to any group is not a sign of weakness – it is always a sign of greatness and broadness. The elders in the family take initiatives in any dispute – the ruling party is definitely elder of all the parties and it has to take the lead.
Narendra Modi used to famously boost of 56-inch ka Seena (chest of 56 inches) – this indicates not only a brave but also a broad heart. A party with this leader must look and act braver, broader and bigger! A party which commands the base of one of the world’s largest cultural organisations like RSS must not be seen out of ideas, out of strength and out of initiatives!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.