As someone who has spent seven formative years in Jawaharlal Nehru University through the 1990s, training as a researcher and undergoing a process of reconstruction as a thinking human being, I am aghast at the current developments on the campus. Student politics in the university is often dictated by larger political strategies of the parent parties with which student outfits are associated. Neither a blind follower of any ideology promising the moon nor a typical opportunist joining a political group controlling power, I would maintain critical distance from political activism to be able to understand and analyse it as observers, theorists or philosophers recommend.
Viewed from this perspective, I would never believe in a revolution starting from JNU nor would I think the administration would do such arbitrary things as to destabilise the system, which should certainly be resisted.
What we are witnessing at present are completely irrational political strategies and actions, which will pay little dividend and indeed further tarnish the image of those in power; as a political party and group the parivar as a whole can do desperate things they are known for, but those running the government should be responsible, accountable and at least better informed and not go by false propaganda.
With the kind of mandate the party has got to run the government at the Centre, it should be confident of its power and be able to tolerate political and intellectual dissent.
Historically, India’s centrist politics involves a strong government creating conditions for political stability, harmonious social relations and economic prosperity, with enough space for tolerating difference and accommodating contrary opinions.
Violence in Patiala House courts complex is particularly disturbing. Lawyers—whether actual or impostors—and ruling party leaders, including a legislator, indulging in violence in court premises with impunity defeats the very purpose for which law courts have been created, ensuring peace and tranquillity through justice for all guaranteed by the Constitution as a responsibility of the state. If those who are part of the government, either in administration or in the party, do not understand the wisdom involved in the advice to maintain grace, equanimity, and responsibility, they will earn a bad name for themselves, besides weakening the otherwise well-grounded political institutions in the country.
Sanity demands that not everything should be reduced to dirty politics for short-term gains.
This level of politics will certainly not get a place in history even if it might appear momentous to those involved.
Instead, calm reflection will advocate responsible governance and space for intellectual and political dissent, both of which tend to diminish and shrink in times of political flux of the kind we are faced with at present; the unfortunate result is intolerance and violence. Checking violation of law and establishing Constitutional supremacy under all circumstances require a non-partisan approach.
Mercifully, the system is strong enough to ensure justice for all, without fear or favour, and any attempt to destabilise the system is always resisted and justifiably so, else there will be anarchy everywhere.
I invoke a medieval Muslim theorist remarking that one day of anarchy on the streets of the city is worse than a thousand years of despotism.
In a modern, democratic and secular republic like India, law of the land and Constitutional safeguards allow space for vibrant political practices, debates and differences. In the current crisis also, law must be allowed to take its own course, based on hard empirical evidence and not any crude and misleading propaganda. There should certainly be no compromise on the country’s political integrity and Constitutional supremacy. As for the rest, it is plain bad politics.
But then there are moments in our history when there are few takers for sanity, and intolerance and violence become the order of the day.
Hopefully, this is a small phase which will change for the better and a lasting peace and order will eventually prevail.
Violent politics will not take us very far.