The year is 2020 and we have elected representatives in the Indian Parliament giving voice to ideas that would spell the doom of Parliamentary Democracy in the country. Mahua Moitra, who fancies herself as the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of India, suggested on Wednesday that street power was more important than having a majority in the Parliament.
The message that Mahua Moitra, Lok Sabha MP from the Trinamool Congress, is conveying is quite clear. The strength in the Parliament does not matter, elections do not matter, even voting does not. What matters is the capability of community or interest groups to hold the state ransom in order to ensure that legislations are passed in their favour. If legislations are going to be decided on the streets, then what is even the point of holding elections?
The sentiments expressed by Mahua Moitra also indicate that she, like most liberals, are not averse to using street power in order to secure their demands. And that perhaps explains some of the grouse that certain sections of the Indian Right have towards Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, because at the end of the day, with his manner of protests that involved the extensive use of Hindu imagery and symbolism and pacifist inclinations robbed Hindus of the will to exercise power on the streets while the avenue was left open for all other interest groups.
Liberals eulogise Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi all the time and yet, they hardly ever practice what he preached. Gandhi’s politics was geared towards securing compromises and workable deals, even when the opposition was not worthy of it, and he never embraced maximalist or extreme positions or drove hard negotiations. The liberal faction pays lip service to Gandhi but when it comes to pushing their agenda, Gandhi is the last person in their minds.
Conversely, however, Gandhi is invoked every time during attempts to defuse Hindu concerns regarding particular legislations. His overarching pacifism has proven to be the bane of Hindu politics as he practised his politics under the garb of Hinduism. Let’s be clear, pacifism is not a core ideal of Hindu Dharma but due to Gandhi, it has become one of the cornerstones of the manner in which Hindu centric politics is conducted.
Thus, the grouse that certain ‘communal Hindus’ have towards Gandhi is completely justified. Here we have a situation where Mahua Moitra, an elected representative of the Parliament, openly declaring that the Parliament is an irrelevant institution and encouraging anarchy on the streets. And yet, the pacifist tendencies that have been incorporated into Indian politics since independence has led to a situation where anarchists are given the liberty to basically run amok on the streets.
We cannot, of course, accuse Mahua Moitra of being too intelligent but surely, even she possesses the intellect required to understand the full implications of her declarations. It is precisely why we had said earlier that the NDA Government at the centre cannot afford to bend the knee to the unruly protesters demonstrating against the newly passed farm laws.
Should the central government concede to the demands of the protesters and repeal the laws, it will embolden every section of society to impose their will on the state by holding it ransom. The consequence would be absolute anarchy. Khalistanis, Islamists, ‘Urban Naxals’, everyone would come crawling out of the woodwork after being emboldened by this victory.
As an institution, the Parliament would be rendered meaningless and Parliamentary Democracy itself will be under threat. The pacifism of the kind Gandhi espoused is good for rhetorical purposes but would spell the death knell for a nation. The government must hold its forte and ensure that such tactics do not taste success. That is the only way to ensure that Parliamentary Democracy continues to function as it should in India.