Crisis and Folly

We have not cared to question the state-led fashioning of an intricate network of digital data we have been forced to supply.All services provided by the state directly or indirectly have required and extorted our Aadhar number.Besides the different identifying coded names or numbers for different services are being linked through our own submissions without our being aware of potential uses of such linkage.Thus in a banal,matter of fact official routine we are being forced to strengthen the arms of a giant surveillance state.

What is its implication for the precious right to privacy of citizens which had been upheld as the very foundation of our fundamental rights in glowing terms by all members of a constitution bench not so long ago.Should it have been brought to the notice of SC?Are we surrendering our fundamental rights by innocently laying ourselves open to such intensive surveillance.As the Centre’s response to SC questions on Pegasus reveals,it has no qualms about it and is determined to brazen it out with impunity.

These circumstances once again bring right under our noses the magnitude of the menace we are up against.And compels our serious consideration.All that we plan and prepare for our response to its unprecedented aggression is more or less known to the enemy who calibrate the scale and kind of of the counter-attack accordingly.All the time keeping in mind its impact on the major battle for election 2024.

The SC seems to be more aware of its implication than before.In a welcome sign the CJI has recently observed during a lecture that the basic structure of the Constitution also includes provisions that forestall a wholesale make-over of the economy on the lines of neoliberalism.And it is after all clear that the ruling party intends to do precisely that.There are other features of more urgent nature that are likely to go under the hammer even sooner.

Which makes us turn our towards the preparations that are afoot among those who say they are leading the defence effort.

First thing to notice is their unmistakable disarray.They seem at loggerheads between themselves.Of late certain regional parties enjoying some influence in certain regions have come together—–namely TMC,AAP,BRS,SP,CPI and Viijayan of Kerala CPI(M)—–to moot a ‘Federal Front’ at equal distance from BJP and Congress(I) with a view to blocking BJP’s campaign.

First if the intention is to prevent the triumph of BJP,how can the group put Congress(I) in the same position and aim at fighting on two fronts?And how can Congress(I) leaders hope to fight BJP vigorously if they do not placate or neutralize this campaign from a slant?

It only shows that they are still underestimating the common enemy.This blindness after all works against their own interest. Such disunity will first disperse their energies and resources as also blunt to that extent the thrust of their campaign against BJP.The inevitable consequence will be diminution of opposition presence in the Parliament and initiation of the last and final attack on democracy.

It is plain that these regional parties are more worried over retention of their regional power intact than overcoming BJP threat at the national level.They seem to think Congress(I) is as much of a threat to their survival as the bogey.But they do not seem to be aware that their favour might not in the event be returned with the same kind of calculation by the latter.Besides any forbearance by BJP will be only tactical and temporary,and few allies have actually survived intact the BJP embrace.

The Congress(I) on the other hand seems to believe that the Bharat Jodo Yatra itself is going to bring about a return of its good fortunes.No doubt it has the potential to turn the tide,but only with the success of certain other complementary circumstances.First its momentum will have to be maintained unflagging.Then its impact must help to alter the vicious paranoid prevailing narrative and free the popular imagination for quite other concerns like price rise,unemployment and ravaging insecurity.

Then it must come to a firm understanding with regional parties so that prospects of opposition unity are not frittered away in squabbles that disturb the people’s mind.There must be due understanding of the the regional parties’ apprehensions and some concessions to their ambitions.

This certainly requires flexibility,serious negotiations, and curbing of Congress(I)’s own ambitions———–as long as it serves to overcome BJP’s repetition of its triumph in the polls.For the consequences of such an event will be an unimaginable disaster for all.

The stakes are clear.Regional parties that have no all India reach want to retain their hold in their respective regions,and the Congress(I) is more interested in regaining the grip it used to have at the national level.Neither objective can be met without a firm mutual understanding,and they should be working from this hour to attain this.

The common voter wants a reassuring perception that the opposition is united to even consider an alternative choice to the one that has so far prevailed.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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