Farce With A Motive
The Motives of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in allowing the review of the constitution are suspect. The 24-party coalition ruling the centre is least competent to initiate the assignment even if the desirability of such a review could be accepted.
In the first place the exercise is not only wholly unnecessary but lacks the legitimacy such monumental national task requires. The move is unprecedented. However comprehensive might be a constitution, inadequacies are inevitable. Therefore the normal practice is to review the working of the constitutions rather than the constitution itself. Second, the exercise gives rise to grave apprehensions. The move comes from a group that has betrayed its lack of faith in the basic structure of the constitution; has argued for a shift from Parliamentary to Presidential system; violated its promise to the Supreme Court in the Babri Masjid affair; and often harped on scrapping the whole compendium of the law. Thirdly, it is engaging in a totally farcical exercise by avoiding the Parliamentary authority. Parliament being the sole trustee of the popular faith, should have ideally set up the body. Going by the representative nature of the Constituent Assembly which framed the constitution between 1947 and 1949, the qualification of the members of that august body, their record of social service, scarifies for the nation and mass appeal, the present body compares poorly. A clutch of judges, politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats cannot sit in judgement over a document that is the outcome of the collective wisdom of men of vision, whose very existence informed the freedom struggle.
This being the essential difference, the larger question that arises is as to what the present government seeks to do with the outcome of the exercise. Some hint is available from what is being said by the Sangh Parivar. One of the most key office-bearers has begun his term in office with a call to scrap the constitution. That hints at the diabolical designs of the godfathers of the present government in Delhi. On another level the very same group has indicated that its target would be those 50 articles that guarantee the preservation of plurality of Indian Culture and Polity. They seek to do away with reservations for Dalits and other Backward Classes (OBCs), Article 30 guaranteeing the minorities right to set up educational institutions, Art 370 which assures a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and other articles which ensure continuance of Federal structure of the polity. This must set off the alarm bells.
But a more sinister threat looms large. Going by the nature of the exercise and the inapplicability of the recommendations (due to lack of legitimacy), the Parivar and its henchman may flesh out certain strands of them and turn them onto agenda for a snap poll. Muslim Personal Law, Article 30 and 370, and certain other pro-minority sounding provisions of the constitution may come in handy for the parivar to polarise opinion on communal lines and cover up its inefficiency, corruption and absolute lack of economic vision. For some years the Parivar has been in cahoots with a cooperative and heavily infiltrated media has perfected the art of demonising the minorities and peddling this hate as nationalism to the gullible citizens. The BJP’s discomfiture at heading a 24-party coalition is obvious and no wonder if it chooses the method to seek a new and wider mandate.
The review panel would thus, in all likelihood, end up unsuspectingly serving the hidden agenda of the power hungry Parivar. It is now for the people of this country to judge the moves of the BJP led NDA government and initiate steps to awaken the secular conscience of the nation. Let us be reminded of President K.R.Narayanan’s word that it is not the Constitution that failed us but it is we who failed the constitution.
Introspection or Ihtisab is one of the attributes that Islam seeks to foster among its adherents in abundance. Perhaps Islam does not want to see an individual becoming selfish in any sphere other than his own welfare in the hereafter (Akhirah). Going by this requirement of Islam, self-assessment should be an ever and on-going process for a Muslim. A Muslim ceases to be true follower of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) the moment he deviates from the self-scrutiny. The companions of the Holy Prophet constantly looked inwards and introspected on the condition of their heart. The moment they suspected that worldly pleasures were creeping into them, they would come running to the Prophet asking whether they could still be accepted as Muslims and the Prophet would console them about the safety of their Iman (Faith) telling them that only angels were immune from temptations.
Muslims could be spared of any external test for their Iman if only they care to apply Islam's strict regimen of Ihtisab. They need not look anywhere else. Remember, and if need be, go through the verses of Surah Al- Imran of the Holy Qur'an, that analysed the defeat of the war of Uhud and discussed threadbare the causes that led to the confusion in the ranks of Islam. The chapter underlines the reasons why a Muslim digresses from Iman and obedience. It is here that one feels that Islam lays down a code of conduct for its followers. Self-searching questions, a constant review of the objectives of each and every action in life, a criterion to gauge the purity of purpose and intentions makes the task easy for Muslims. If indeed one could turn the searchlight inwards, one will require no other means for achieving self-fulfilment.