Monday October 22, 2018
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Sonia Gandhi accuses Modi govt. of a ‘brazen’ attitude

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New Delhi: Accusing the government of adopting a “brazen” attitude, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday stuck to the demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP chief ministers before parliament could function.

“Let me make it clear that we are not being aggressive just to match the BJP’s aggression of the past. We have been forced to take our position because of the government’s completely brazen attitude,” Gandhi said at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) here.

A combative Congress president said her party wants both houses to function. “But we are very clear that there can be no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for their wrong-doings remain in office.”

“Our stand is clear and straightforward from day one. There is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in the public domain for the prime minister to require the resignations of the external affairs minister and the two chief ministers,” she said.

She attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence on any issue taking a controversial turn, notably the recent ones involving the external affairs minister and two chief ministers.

She said: “Parliamentary majority does not give anyone a license to escape accountability.”

Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje have been linked to the controversy over travel documents being given to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, while Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been linked to the Vyapam scam.

“The ‘#MannKibaat’ man appears to retreat into a ‘Maun Vrat’ (vow of silence) whenever there is a scandal involving his colleagues,” she said.

Gandhi said while the prime minister never missed an opportunity to claim the moral high ground on transparency, integrity and accountability, he maintained a “deafening silence” on some blatant transgressions by his party leaders.

Taking on the BJP over its disruptive politics in parliament during the last period of the UPA regime, she said: “Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when they were in the opposition.”

“Yesterday’s agitators in both the houses have suddenly become today’s champions of debate and discussion. Memories are short and therefore we need to remind our political adversaries who are today conveniently suffering from selective amnesia.”

Gandhi accused the government of using its numerical strength as a source of arrogance rather than responsibility.

“First, parliament is by-passed and a spate of ordinances are issued and some re-issued as well. Bills don’t get referred to standing committees. Our voices are stifled. And now this numerical strength is being used to substitute investigation by mere discussion,” she said.

“This is unacceptable to us and we will do all that is necessary to hold this government accountable,” she said.

(IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)