EXPLAINED NATIONAL

Congress and the Constitution – Some Facts for Rahul Gandhi’s Perusal

November 26, a day that has been commemorated as the Constitution Day by the present government has a special significance in Indian politics as this day is dedicated to the constitution of the world’s largest democracy. To mark the day, Rahul Gandhi, President of the Congress Party, on November 26, 2018, tweeted the following:

In his tweet, Rahul Gandhi shows utmost respect and untiring commitment of the Congress Party towards the constitution of India. He also takes an indirect jibe at others who conspire to erase the constitution of India.

Let us take a look at how the Congress Party has respected the Constitution.

1. President’s Rule in States

Under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, the central government can proclaim the President’s rule in the states under some circumstances.

This power was conferred on the central government to be used only in extraordinary circumstances. Fearing the chances of its misuse, Dr. Ambedkar had hoped that the article 356 should remain as a ‘dead letter’ and something which should not be called into operations often. However, it has been called into operations a number of times by many central governments, especially by the Congress Party as shown in the graph below.

As per the Ministry of Home Affairs reply to an RTI application, there have been 115 instances in total when the President’s rule was imposed on the states. Congress Party, which claims to have always respected the constitution, has imposed the President’s rule for 84 times between the year 1950 and 2016.

Source: RTI Reply by MHA

From the above graph, it is quite evident as to how the Congress Party has rampantly imposed the President’s rule in states, and it is well known that in how many instances this has amounted to gross misuse of this power under Article 356 of the Constitution.

2. National Emergency or President’s Rule in the Country

Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India belonging to the Congress Party, using the Article 352 of the Constitution had declared the National Emergency in the country on June 26, 1975, to control the ‘internal disturbance’.

However, the real reasons as reported by many scholars and media houses were the ongoing protests in several states against the Indira Gandhi Government then. The immediate trigger to her such dictatorial move was the ‘Raj Narain Case’ in which Allahabad High Court on June 12, 1975, had declared her election to the parliament as null and void and she was given 20 days span to appeal it in the Supreme Court. But, before that deadline, this absolute attack on the constitution and its principles were launched by the then Chief of the Congress Party.

3. Attack on the Constitutional Institutions

Below are the attacks on the institutions that came into existence as per the Indian Constitution, and which happened under Rahul Gandhi’s watch, who ironically in his tweet claimed to have shown a great respect for the constitution.

A. Supreme Court of India

When the Supreme Court had denied the investigation rejecting the baseless allegations in the Justice Loya’s death case, the Congress Party brought an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dipak Misra which was widely seen as a revenge petition.

Commenting on this unprecedented attack on the judiciary, Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India and a respected Jurist said, “… the opposition is doing “great harm” to the institution of an independent judiciary and its public perception.

He further added, What is the gross misbehaviour, the ground for impeachment? That a judgment was not in favour… People should learn to understand an unfavourable order, to accept defeat… SC has given good reasons. If you don’t accept, where is the finality?”

It is quite interesting to recall at this point that Congress has a fervent history of attacking the independence of the judiciary in our country. In the background of an unfavourable judgement in Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973, Indira Gandhi superseded three Supreme Court Judges to appoint A.N. Ray (who favoured Indira Gandhi’s viewpoint by refusing to sign the Kesavananda Bharati judgement) as the next Chief Justice of India.

B. Election Commission of India

From the credibility of EVMs to the reputation of the Poll Panel, everything has been attacked by the Congress Party. We have previously covered this aspect comprehensively in our article titled, Attacks on Election Commission of India before Elections. In this article, we had explained as to how the Election Commission had reported to the Supreme Court that there was a malicious attempt by the Congress Party to blotch its image by fabricating certain documents.

Let us recall here that the Congress Party had initiated the charge of ‘manipulated EVMs’ after it lost the election in the year 2014. But, when the Election Commission of India challenged them to prove their charge, let alone the Congress party, no opposition party or leader turned up with concrete evidence to prove themselves right.

But, even after these episodes, Congress Party leaders had such an audacity that despite their bluff of manipulated EVMs being called out by the Election Commission, a constitutional body, they kept on attacking it voraciously.

Congress veteran, Manish Tiwari, tweeted the above taking a jibe at the poll panel and asking them why it needs to promote the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)! He questioned a regular exercise that the Election Commission has been carrying out regularly to spread awareness among the masses, about any new innovation (VVPAT in this case) that they launch.

Conclusion

Facts speak for themselves! Throughout history, it appears that the Congress Party has shown a blatant disrespect towards the Constitution of India on many occasions. Apart from the historical account of its legacy of violating the constitution, even the current Party President has not been able to control such misuse. During the UPA Government rule (2004-2014), time since Rahul Gandhi has assumed a greater role in the Congress Party, President’s rule was imposed 11 times in different states. Moreover, impeachment motion against the CJI was brought under his presidentship which was widely criticised as a revenge petition. The Congress President may claim that his party respects the Indian Constitution, however, the evident tarnishing of the Election Commission’s image by the Congress leaders do not support his superfluous claim.