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'Mrs Gandhi, you need not destroy democracy'

'Mrs Gandhi, you need not destroy democracy'

Author: Shobhan Saxena
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 19, 2011
URL: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Main-Street/entry/mrs-gandhi-you-need-not-destroy-democracy

TRK Somaiya of Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal runs the Gandhi Book Centre in Mumbai. Somaiya, who is completely dedicated to Gandhian values, keeps sending me mails about his book centre as well as social issues. Today, he sent me a copy of a letter written by Jayaprakash Narayan to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in July 21, 1975. "It is relevant in today's situation also," wrote Somaiya.

When I read the letter I realized how little things have changed in this country. it's sad and scary.

I have pasted the letter below. Please have a look.

July 21, 1975


Dear Prime Minister,

In a democracy the citizen has an inalienable right to civil disobedience when he finds that other channels of redress or reform have dried up. It incites and accepts his lawful punishment. This is the new dimension added to democracy by Gandhi. What an irony that it should be obliterated in Gandhi's own India!

Moreover, it is a false choice that you have formulated. There is no choice between democracy and the nation. If was for the good of the nation that the people of India declared in their Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 that "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic…give to ourselves this Constitution." That democratic Constitution cannot be changed into a totalitarian one by a mere ordinance or a law of Parliament. That can be done only by the people of India themselves in a new Constituent Assembly, especially elected for that specific purpose. If Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have not been rendered to 'all its citizens' even after a quarter of a century of signing of that Constitution, the fault is not that of the Constitution or of democracy but of the Congress party that has been in power in Delhi all these years. It is precisely because of that failure that there is so much unrest among for that. On the other hand, it only compounds the failure.

You have accused the Opposition and me of every kind of villainy. But let me assure you that if you do the right things, for instance, your 20 points, tackling corruption at Ministerial levels, electoral reform, etc., take the Opposition into confidence, heed its advice; you will receive the willing cooperation, of every one of us. For that you need not destroy democracy. The ball is in your court. It is for you to decide.

(Jayaprakash Narayan)

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