TODAY -

Pradhan Mantriji's 'Leirum Lengyan'

Free Thinker *



On 15th August, last Wednesday, did you see the 'leirum lengyan' ( muffler) of the Hon. Prime minister standing on the rampart of Red Fort built by Shri Shah Jahan , addressing the nation on the occasion of Freedom from British Raj.

To me the most striking thing he talked about was his assurance given to the people to go beyond "ease of doing business" to "ease of living"; that is what every citizen longs for. Easy access to food, water, shelter (home),clothing, education, job, health-care, transport and communication is intrinsic to ease of living. Yes of course it includes unfettered internet and humongous entertainment.

A prominent politician innocuously asked me why Pradhan Mantri ji was wearing a Manipuri ethnic muffler on such an occasion when the entire nation was watching him live.

I simply said , this might be an indication that Manipur is now in the reckoning. Then his supplementary question was stunning ; you mean the Naga imbroglio or the political fluidity or Article 371 A or C?.

I made it extremely simple - he loves Manipur that is all. Politician's mind works in a different manner.

Article 370 was a temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Temporary means temporary. The way this temporary tag was removed may be debatable .

Repudiation of the Article requires a recommendation from the Constituent Assembly of the State of J&K; obviously there can't be a Constituent Assembly now; then what is the plausible alternative ?

Consequently the Legislative Assembly of J&K may be construed as the Constituent Assembly ; but under President's Rule the State is represented by the Governor and the Parliament. Parliament had done the needful.

However some legal eagles argue that since we cant have the Constituent Assembly of J&K now the Article 370 should remain forever as a permanent Article though classified as temporary. Because today we can't go back to the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the strict interpretation of law.

The preceding argument is based on the liberal interpretation of law. Now the Federal Court may invoke the Golden rule of interpretation of law. Let us wait and see.

Government of the day rightly says, it is purely an internal matter to deal with our own constitutional matter. Pakistan or China are not supposed to amend our constitution.

Can we amend the Constitution of Pakistan/China? When we amend the amendable provisions of the Constitution- what is wrong with that ? . Many times the Federal Court had ruled that the basic structure of the constitution is unamendable. However Article 370 was never pronounced as unamendable .

Unlike other countries , India has a long established tradition of respecting different faiths including Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis. Indeed the separation of Ladakh into a Union Territory with a 70 percent Buddhist majority demonstrates the respect and tolerance towards different culture and tradition.

That is our apprehension too , in the name of respecting the Christians in the hills the valley may be isolated. Whether Article 371 A or C is permanent or temporary, is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. However this Article comes under Part XXI of the Constitution under the heading "Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions " and hence it seems provisional.

If a referendum is conducted in this country an extra-ordinary majority shall vote in favour of scraping these temporary/ provisional/special Articles. But we won't do that because the whole world would flay us for being blatantly majoritarian .

They may also argue - why are you conducting a plebiscite for the whole country and not for state specific ?

A strong nation does not entertain views from outside in internal matters. Do you think that United Kingdom took the opinion from other countries while conducting referendums on Scotland? For that matter Canada on Quebec.

If you are part of a country your destiny will be decided by the country. In a democracy destiny of the country is again decided by the people - by the majority. That does not mean that the minorities are to be ignored or spurned.

The minority in terms of religion, race or culture ought to be protected as we have solemn faith in true spirit of democracy . Even the differences must be sorted out fairly and equitably.

The consolidation of the Indian nation state is one the primary objects of the Party in power; so we should not be surprised to see a series of manoeuvrings in the direction of reunification and consolidation of the nation-state. Overwhelming majority of the people of this country believe in this process. But the process ought to be more transparently democratic and less coercive .

Sarcastically someone said , "Democracy is about two wolves and a lamb deciding on what to eat for dinner ."In fact the true spirit of democracy is not about numbers alone it is much more than that.

It is not only a way of majority rule but also a way of minority protection. We believe the wolves shall understand the sentiment of the lamb.

We would also like to believe that the 'leirum lengyan' on Prime Minister's shoulder was a symbol of protecting and promoting the ethnic groups of this great country which stands for peaceful co-existence.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 21 2019.



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