India Under Modi – Dismantling democracy one brick at a time

Dismantle Democracy

One flag, One leader and One ideology” was the slogan of RSS leader Golwakar. Inspired from the Nazi and Fascist parties of Italy and Germany, and the ethnic cleansing of Jews the RSS was formed with the sole aim of creating a Hindu nation. After coming to power in 2014, BJP government has launched an assault on the federal democratic structure of India. While policies like GST, NEET, NEP, Beef ban, Niti ayog have all intruded into the rights of the states guaranteed by the constitution, BJP is silently dismantling the democratic framework one brick at a time.

Ever since it came to power the BJP government has been deliberately misusing the money bill to pass the legislations without any debate in the Rajya Sabha where it doesn’t have any majority till now. The Money Bill is passed in the parliament after the Budget to give a constitutional sanction to all the tax amendments proposed in the Budget. The bill doesn’t need any approval from Rajya Sabha to be passed.

In 2016 the Aadhar act was passed as a money bill in spite of opposition from other parties. Though section 110 of the constitution clearly says that only Tax related items should be included in the money bill, other sections of the Constitution give the speaker right to decide whether a Bill qualifies as a money bill or not in case of disagreement.

Another amendment was made in foreign contribution regulations act (FCRA) and was passed as a money bill. The FCRA passed in 2010, doesn’t allow foreign companies contributing to the political parties. Association of Democratic Reforms found that both Congress and BJP continued to get funds from foreign corporate companies like Vedanta group till 2012. The amendment made in 2015 changed the definition of “foreign source” so as to accommodate corporate company’s branches in India. Not just that it went a step ahead to make the amendment apply retrospectively from 2010 onwards so that it can escape from judicial scrutiny. This is the true color of the moral crusaders who brag about fighting corruption and promised 15 Lakh to each citizen once the black money from foreign accounts was brought back. Activists like SP Udhayakumar can be hounded, harassed and falsely accused of getting foreign funds. But political parties can safeguard themselves constitutionally by twisting rules.

In spite of a case being filed against the use of Money bill for Aadhar act in Supreme Court, the BJP government has been using the Money Bill to pass legislations. The amendments made to various acts in the 2017 Money bill are far worse and exposes the so called democracy in India. 40 amendments in various laws were included in the 2017 money bill.

Amendments made in Companies act, Representation of Peoples Act and Income Tax act have made it optional for the corporate companies to mention the names of the political parties to which they have contributed funds in their Tax forms. The amendment has introduced “electoral bonds” which will be released by RBI and can be bought in any Banks. The political parties also need not mention who contributed money through these electoral bonds. Further there was limit that a company can contribute only 7.5% of the average profit made in three years. The limit was put in place so that fake subsidiary companies will not be created for the sake of routing funds. But the amendment has removed the ceiling. Contrary to this, a ceiling of 2 Lakh rupees has been introduced for cash transaction. Any two citizens who carry out cash transaction worth more than 2 Lakh will be fined 100% of the amount of the transacted. So much for the talk of war and black money and transparency the BJP government has only introduced opaqueness to the existing corrupt electoral system.

Further amendments are made in Income Tax act to give draconian powers to the Income tax officers. They can now raid premises of any individual and are not bound to provide reason, the basis for conducting the Income tax raid even in the Income Tax tribunal. We are already seeing the effect of such amendments. Income Tax raids were conducted in the homes of various ADMK political leaders till they towed the line of the BJP in various policy issues. The ADMK government is behaving more like a benami, a puppet, in the hands of the Central BJP government. If its AFSPA to quell armed uprisings, its amendments like these which will help government conduct witch hunts like the CBI raid of NDTV Prannoy Roy who defy the government.

The Money bill also had amendments to merge eight autonomous tribunals with other tribunals. Tribunals are Quasi-judicial institutions brought into effect by the infamous 42nd amendment. According to the existing acts the appointment of judges to the tribunal are handled by the laws. But the government has made amendments that hiring and firing of judges will be completely handled by the executive authorities itself and legislative will have no saying in that. This is completely contrary to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling which warned that appointment to appellate tribunals should be free of executive interference.

In May, the central government passed an ordinance in the Banking Regulation Act, giving powers to the RBI to exercise control in settling the Non-performing assets which amount to Rs. 10 Lakh crores. National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) will be resolving these cases. With the amendment from Money Bill already in place, the banking regulation ordinance is bound to bring losses to the banks, with reckless borrowers and willful defaulters walking away scot-free, as the government is in a hurry to clean up the balance sheets of the banks.

Also, in spite of various security concerns connected with Aadhar, the government made an amendment making it compulsory to link Aadhar with PAN cards failing which the PAN will become invalid from July 1 and person cannot file Income Taxes. Cases were filed against this amendment in Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court, which had previously passed judgments that Aadhar should not be made compulsory for services ruled that the amendment is valid for all future PAN registrations.

While politics of cow protection, yoga, Sanskrit, Hindi imposition are in the fore, the existing laws and regulations are dismantled to aid unfettered exploitation by the ruling capitalist class. The Hindutva Ideology that has no regard for democratic values is a natural ally for the big capital. Who is our ally?

Arun Kaliraja