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The Supreme Court thwarts horse-trading

Supreme Court

The Bharatiya Janata Party which made a patent fraud in collusion with the Presiding Officer in the mayor election of Chandigarh has been inflicted a heavy blow by the Supreme Court. The bench which pronounced invalid the declaration of the BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar as winner, asked for the recounting of votes including the eight votes which the presiding officer had earlier declared as invalid, treating those eight as valid votes. With this the Aam Aadmi Party member Kuldip Kumar, who was the INDIA alliance candidate has been elected mayor. At the beginning of the hearing of the case, the Chief Justice DY Chandrachud had made it clear that the court would not alo the 'murder of democracy'. That day, the court had also ordered the prosecution of presiding officer Anil Masih and to produce the full video footage of the election process. By the time the case came for hearing on February 19, it was reported in the media that three AAP councillors had joined the BJP overnight. The CJI's response then was that it expresses its deep concern that horse-trading is happening here. In the 35-member municipal council, the BJP had 15 votes including that of an MP. And the AAP-Congress alliance had 20 votes for the election of the mayor. Naturally the AAP candidate would have been elected. But Anil Masih the Secretary General of the BJP's Minority Morcha was instantly removed from the post and was nominated to be the presiding officer for the mayor election. And he examined the votes cast for the mayor election, marked eight ballot papers and put them aside. And when he counted only the remaining ballots, the nominee of the BJP, Manoj Sonkar was declared winner. This flagrant fraud naturally reached the Punjab-Haryana High Court and subsequently the Supreme Court in the form of a complaint. At that point Manoj Sonkar resigned from his post and moved on to the next scene of the drama. What happened thence was that the BJP enrolled three AAP councillors through defection to its group and that was how the BJP moved the pieces abruptly to secure the post of civic head. All these clever moves were thwarted thanks to the swift steps of the judiciary.

The topsy-turvey happenings in Chandigarh mayor election normally would not attract national headlines. But when the top court is constrained to term it murder of democracy and horse-trading, it assumes huge significance, especially in the present situation. To put it more clearly, it is not the first or second instance of the Hindutva forces who came to power through democracy showing scant regard for democracy or the constitution that came into being through democracy. What happened in Chandigarh was only a replay of the model of horse-trading that had earlier happened in Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The only difference here is that for solely because of the timely intervention of the judiciary, this time the massacre of democracy was averted.

The ruling right-wing dispensation which captured power by regularly repeating such instances of defection with almost near complete sway over national media, by spreading fake and fabricated stories through social media spending crores of rupees, then squeezes the opposition - which overcomes such obstacles - by hunting them down using government agencies, threatening by warning about prisons and repeats such acts of arranging defection. And the news that keep flowing in currently are instances of herding leaders and functionaries of key opposition parties like the Congress to its camp with the carrot of plum posts or stick of corruption cases. The most recent method in display was the use of even the highest civilian honour of Bharat Ratna for unedifying influence over selective popular opinion. What more, even the Ram Temple celebration, has been part of a planned attempt inside and outside parliament to capitalise on the religious sentiment of innocent members of the majority community. Where does the Ram Rajya of Gandhi lie and where is the Ram Rajya promised with Modi's guarantee? It is certain that power usurped through defection and horse-trading, will never be for the good of the country or secure peaceful life for its people.

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TAGS:Supreme CourtBJPEditorialChandigarh mayorAnil MasihAAP-Congress alliance
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