Yesterday, our nation saw something quite unprecedented, with four senior judges of the Supreme Court raising a banner of open revolt against the Chief Justice of India. Included among them was Honorable Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who as per seniority norms, is likely to be our next Chief Justice. Justice Gogoi, in fact, comes from a family of high achievers, his father Keshab Chandra Gogoi having risen to the post of Assam Chief Minister during Congress rule in the 1980s.
I am also sure that the nation will remember with gratitude the services of Justice Kurian Joseph. In April 2015, he had awakened the national conscience towards the importance of top Constitutional functionaries getting to enjoy their holidays without the pressure of meetings with the Prime Minister of India.
As such, I am relieved to note that yesterday’s press conference happened on a working day, during working hours. I do hope that all four Honorable Judges have enjoyed their Friday evening and have adequate leisure activities planned for the weekend.
It is now for us, the common people of India, to spend our weekend reflecting on how our democracy is in danger. This is not our weekend to enjoy. We must sit and think and speak out because our country needs us. For this, I bet most of us would be willing to stay up all through Sunday night before we go to work on Monday morning.
As the nation was sitting up and getting ready to pull three successive all nighters to debate what was happening, it turns out that we the people had a “representative” meeting the Honorable Justice Chelameswar on our behalf.
Who is this alleged representative? D Raja of the Communist Party of India.
This is indeed his actual quote, which I had to read two or three times over and over again to make sure.
I don’t know about you, but to me D Raja of CPI claiming to represent Parliament and the Indian people feels like a slap on the face of democracy.
For easy reference of those who continue to needle the BJP over winning “just 31%” of the vote in 2014 elections, let me mention that the CPI secured a grand total of 0.79% of the vote in Lok Sabha polls. How does it feel to be “represented” by the CPI?
They worried about the “problems” in the first past the post system. What now? Should we replace the “first past the post system” with a “last past the post system” where the party that wins the least number of votes is declared the winner?
Is that how we should redesign our electoral system so that the CPI can rightfully claim to “represent” us?
Here is the question before 99.21% of the Indian people. You know, the ones who did not vote to “represented” by D Raja.
Can we tolerate the tyranny of the unelected and in fact, the unelectable? Can we tolerate D Raja as our representative? What qualifies him?
Speaking to Republic TV (see here from 2:00 minute mark) Mr. D Raja explained that he keeps meeting Justice Chelameswar while traveling, in flights, etc. Now, I have no doubt that is true, especially considering the fact that Mr. D Raja spent Rs 65 lakh of public money on his air travel last financial year. This makes him the second highest spender among all our MPs, the first rank going to Mr. Ritabrata Banerjee of the CPI(M).
In case you don’t know, an honorable MP is also entitled to collect 1/4th of the price of the air ticket as DA that goes into his/her honorable pocket.
Now, free speech doesn’t come free and fighting for free speech certainly isn’t free. We will give the Communists that.
But still I will take a stand and say that this does not qualify Mr. D Raja to be the representative of Parliament and even less a representative of the Indian people. What about the 99.21% of us who didn’t vote for the CPI?
Maybe Shekhar Gupta. I bet we could all agree on his name as our official representative. But D Raja? Come on!
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.