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Style of a comrade - An editorial - The Indian Express - Editorial

Posted By ashok (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
3 July 1996

Title : Style of a comrade
Publication : The Indian Express - Editorial
Date : July 3, 1996

To suggest that India's first Communist Home Minister
has also been affected by the familiar shortcoming of
his inexperience - would be to do injustice to Indra-
jit Gupta's standing as a parliamentarian . Yet,
there is a distinctly unwholesome note to Gupta's first
pronouncements on the vexed Ayodhya controversy. It is
not the Home Minister's announcement to stick to the Com-
mon Minimum Programme and refer the mandir-masjid
pute to the Supreme Court under section 138(2) of
the Constitution that prompts concern. What is dis-
turbing is Gupta's apparent anxiety to secure the ref-
erence before an elected government assumes charge in
Lucknow. In other words, the Home Minister is anxious
to capitalise on the fact that Uttar Pradesh is under
President's rule to secure the State Government's simul-
taneous concurrence to the Supreme Court reference.
Legally, Gupta is not wrong, but such a move is ethi-
cally improper and violates the UF's avowed commitment
to federalism. If Gupta deems it improper to bulldoze an
autonomy package for Jammu and Kashmir before an
elected government assumes charge in the State, the same
principle must also apply to UP. Some States cannot be
held to be more federal than others.

Even otherwise, it is preposterous for the Home Minister
to imply that democracy in UP must be kept in abeyance
beyond October 17 to expedite a judicial resolution of
the Ayodhya dispute. His apprehension "of more vio-
lence in UP than Jammu and Kashmir" is not only spe-
cious, but may even seem a contrived bid to get
around the stringent provisions of the 44th Amendment
stipulating mandatory elections after one year of Presi-
dent's rule. Indeed, it is hard to escape the conclu-
sion that Gupta's alarmism is not on account of ground
realities in UP, but a cynical response to the failure
of the "secular" forces to cobble together an anti-BJP
coalition. From the UF's point of view, it makes sense
to delay the assembly election to enable the Samajwadi
Party and BSP to bury the hatchet, but the politi-
cal process cannot be subverted to suit the conven-
ience of ideology. Gupta must bear in mind that he is
no longer speaking in his capacity as CPI general
secretary, but as the Home Minister of India. The
imperatives of office necessitate that he choose his
words with care and a sense of responsibility. Other-
wise, there will be nothing to distinguish him from
some of his colleagues in the Government.

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