‘Secular’ India and Sankaracharya
Author: S. Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: December 18, 2004
“Everyone is equal before law”. This is what the ‘seculars’ keep saying whether the issue is the Ram temple in Ayodhya or the arrest of the Sankaracharya. Let us see how equal the law has been in ‘secular’ India.
Shia Muslims had gone to the Supreme Court in the 1980s complaining that the Varanasi municipality had permitted the Sunni Muslims to bury their dead in the land belonging to Shia Muslims. The court directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh and India to restore the land back to the Shias. ‘Secular’ governments came back to tell the court that implementing the order would mean law and order problem. And the Supreme Court stayed its own order, which stands stayed even today, that is for over 16 years.
In 1986, the Supreme Court gave to divorced Muslim women the same rights which all women in India get. The Rajiv Gandhi government changed the law to undo the Supreme Court judgment as the ruling of the highest court had led to law and order issues on the street. So this settled the supreme power of the mob and the ‘secular’ appearance of the might of the mob over the rule of law. But when it came to the Ayodhya issue, the ‘secular’ chorus was that the judgment of the courts shoudl be respected in full.
Indeed, law binds only those who are considered not ‘secular’ by the seculars.
Move on further. The present generation would not remember that a convicted Sanjay Gandhi was acquitted the moment Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980. Ram Jethmalani, the special prosecutor against Sanjay, told the Supreme Court that “for the accused had suddenly turned the prosecutor.”
Subsequently, all cases against Indira Gandhi were withdrawn or dissolved as she had become the Prime Minister. The ‘secular’ media and parties kept mum.
Come to more recent times. It is no secret that Ottavio Quottrocchi brokered the bribe between the Gandhi family and Bofors. He ran away from law and courts in India, abused the Indian courts as capable of dispensing only injustice. Yet Sonia Gandhi certified him as ‘an innocent man persecuted by the Vajpayee government.’ So there is another exception, besides mob might, to the rule that law is supreme and that is the Gandhi family, from Indira to Sonia. Yet, it is the Congress party which says no one should be above law. Every ‘secular’ party finds new virtues in Congress and Sonia and bends over backwards to associate with them.
Move on to the purest of seculars, the Left. The 30-year CPM rule in Bengal has resulted in 30,000 political murders. Yes 30,000. This is not what the enemies of CPM say, but as pere the statistics sworn to by the ally of CPM today, the Congress party. Recently, a Dalit was burnt in broad daylight in Bengal, in front of his wife and children and the police, because he belonged to a non-Left party. The entire national media kept silent, and so was the local police. Yet the Left is the guardian of law. A Lalu Prasad, who should be with Pappu Yadav in jail, is now the Railway Minister of India. A Shibu Soren is relieved of all his guilt of allegedly murdering his own secretary, because he has been granted bail. A Taslimuddin who was gun-running for the terrorists too is a minister. All of them qualify as ‘secular’ parties, leaders and collectively as ‘secular’ India.
Now go on to the commercial world. The Reliance group habitually breached all laws. It was a delinquent from its juvenile days. Its success was directly proportionate to its defiance of law.
Its brand was built on its capacity to breach law and get away with it. Reliance was ‘respected’ for its success against the law. With the sole exception of late Ram Nath Goenka, the entire media not only endorsed the wealth of Reliance, but also commended it.
The ‘secular’ media, personalities, parties and leaders vie with one another to be sen with the Ambanis. Save a couple of exceptions like a Jaswant Singh of the BJP or Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI, no one dares to cross the Reliance path. Otherwise, Reliance is a melting pot of the seculars and those not so ‘secular’. The reason: Reliance underwrites the election budgets of most political parties. So, that it excelled in crime made no difference to the seculars, particularly.
IT is this ‘secular’ India — represented by the media, polity and intelligentsia — that has taken a ‘highly principled stand’ in the Sankaracharya case that the rule of law must prevail. ‘Sankaracharya is like Pappu Yadav after all’, ‘secular’ India says. So denial of bail to him is okay.
All ‘secular’ parties have taken the stand that law must prevail, but on Sankaracharyaonly. But the legal strike on Sankaracharya is ahead of law and evidence.
Investigation did not precede his arrest, but has started with it. Still the entire ‘secular’ media, polity and intelligentsia have endorsed it. The only fault of the Sankaracharya has been that he was never in the ‘secular’ bandwagon. Had he been, maybe this would not have happened to him.
So the law is equal for seculars. Not necessarily for others. He may even be a Sankarachary!