The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is a legislation which along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) gives rise to a legal regime which is not consistent with the tenets of the Indian Constitution.
The CCA/NRC violates the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, primarily the equality clause and the principle of secularism embedded within the constitutional framework.
I further argue that Fundamental Rights are in fact dissenting rights.
The Indian Constitution – A story in three parts
The Constitution can be broadly divided into three parts.
The first accounts for protection of individual liberty through the fundamental rights chapter stipulated in Part III of the Constitution.
The second seeks to create independent institutions such as the constitutional courts, the Election Commission, the Comptroller Auditor General and the Governor’s office etc.
Twenty five years ago, on 6 December 1992, the structure of Babri Masjid was brought down by a mob of vandals, presided over by the top leadership of the BJP/RSS/VHP, as the Congress government led by prime minister Narasimha Rao looked on benignly. As did the Supreme Court before which a commitment was made by the Kalyan Singh (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh – to the effect that nothing would be allowed to happen to the structure of the mosque.
Journalist Sajeda Momin, covering the demolition, recalls the scene thus,
I can still see the thousands of saffron-clad ‘kar sevaks’ clambering atop the 16th century mosque and pounding it with shovels, iron rods, pickaxes and anything they could lay their hands on. I can hear the screeching of Sadhvi Uma Bharti egging them on shouting “ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do” through the microphones from atop the specially-built watchtower for the BJP/RSS/VHP leadership. I can visualize the three domes of the mosque collapsing inwards one by one at intervals of roughly an hour on that cold, wintery Sunday afternoon.
Everyone knew who were the dramatis personae at each level – and practically every bit of evidence that would ever have been required exists, captured in videos and photographs. Our present prime minister was said to be one of the key organizers of the of the Rath Yatra that led up to the demolition and can be seen holding the microphone in his hands in the photograph below.
Worse was to follow the demolition. The demolition of the structure of the mosque was over that day but the process of the demolition of the Indian Constitution that had begun with what was called the ‘Ram janmabhoomi movement’ continued. By ‘Constitution’ I do not simply mean the book that embodies the law of the land but rather the very weave that came to constitute Indian society as a result of the new contract that the document called the Constitution embodied. Constitution, therefore in a triple sense. The document called the Constitution too was not merely a book of laws; it was rather, the only existing, largely agreed upon, vision of a modern India. It was a vision which was put in place through the long process of struggles, debates and contestations over the long decades of the anticolonial movement and finally given shape in, in the Constituent Assembly. There was nothing benign or innocuous about it – every bit of it had to be achieved through a fight. And yet, in the end, that was the document that embodied the vision of modern India. The only political current that stood far away from both the anticolonial struggle and had no role in the creation of this vision is the political force that rules India today.
The RSS and its numerous offshoots were neither fighting the British nor joining in the anti-caste and anti-untouchability struggles through the period since they came into existence in the mid-1920s. No wonder leaders of the Sangh combine think the anti-colonial/ national struggle was about cow-protection. That they neither subscribed to the anti-British agenda nor to the anti-caste agenda around which struggles of that period took shape, is not just a matter of historical record but is also visible in the way its leaders and ranks conduct their politics today. Every single step taken by the Sangh leaders is a step out of sync with the vision of the future spelt out by the social contract of modern India. That the Sangh attributes this vision to the Congress is an expression of its own illiteracy about the diverse forces in struggle throughout that period.
Even though it is conducted in the name of Hindus, there is nothing ‘Hindu’ about its agenda. Sangh and Sanghism is the name of a malignant political machine that seeks to destroy the very body of society in the name of an ancient past. That is the political machine we confront today. That is the political machine that we must fight today with all our vigour.
Triggered by the recent events at JNU, it is inspiring that the Left and genuine liberal voices in India are standing up to the Hindutva fascist onslaught. However, I find it very disappointing that the current Left leadership and some left intellectuals and sympathisers (especially belonging to the CPI and CPM) are succumbing to the pressure of chauvinist Indian nationalism. One would be shirking one’s responsibility if one were not to criticise that misguided and seemingly scared Left for its pitiable practice of for ever chanting mantra of ‘unity and integrity of the country’ in a self-defeating game of competitive Indian nationalism. The Left is beating its breast and going to the town chanting that we are ‘desh bhagats’ in a foolish retaliation against Sanghi’s charges of left being desh dirohi. Tomorrow, the Sanghis will say that you are ‘Ram dirohi’ when you oppose the building of the Ram Mandir. Would you then start saying: we are Ram Bhatkas? Let us not succumb to Sanghi’s brow beating tactics. Let us openly proclaim that India is not one nation but a historically determined territorial space of many nations, nationalities and emerging/potential nations and nationalities. As capitalism expands in India and the regional diversity of India flowers further, new voices of national self-determination would start becoming more articulated.
In order to gain larger legitimacy, RSS has been making claims of sorts. One of that which was made few months back was that Gandhi was impressed by functioning of RSS. Now on the heels of that comes another distortion that Ambedkar believed in Sangh ideology (Feb 15, 2015). This was stated recently by RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat. There cannot be bigger contrasts between the ideology of Ambedkar and RSS. Ambedkar was for Indian Nationalism, Secularism and social justice while the RSS ideology is based on two major pillars. One is the Brahmanic interpretation of Hinduism and second is the concept of Hindu nationalism, Hindu Rashtra.
Where does Ambedkar stand as for as ideology of Hinduism is concerned? He called Hinduism as Brahminic theology. We also understand that Brahmanism has been the dominant tendency within Hinduism. He realized that this prevalent version of Hinduism is essentially a caste system, which is the biggest tormentor of untouchables-dalits.