On a day when state government is celebrating the 69th Republic Day, opposition parties are organising silent ‘Samvidhan Bachao’ (Save the Constitution) march to protest against the BJP led government. The march is organised by Samvidhan Bachao Andolan Samiti as non-BJP political parties, other outfits and social activists participated in it. They are also going to protest against the government’s attempts to amend the Indian Constitution. Ever since the Modi government has come to power, the autonomy of institutions like Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, is under threat. Attempts were also made to undermine the judiciary as four judges of Supreme Court had held press conference for the first time to raise their concern about the administration of highest court in the nation was not in order. They also had indicated that democracy won’t survive if the institution was not preserved.
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said that all opposition parties are together holding a rally to warn the government which has put Indian Constitution under threat. He said, “All opposition parties are jointly participating in the Samvidhan Bachao march and it is held under the leadership of Sharad Pawar. Many other prominent leaders like Sitaram Yechury, Ashok Chavan, Raju Shetti and Sharad Yadav will be a part of the rally. Republic Day is the right occasion to highlight the importance of Constitution as it is the day when India’s constitution came into force in 1950. The rally is the fight to save the constitution.”
The government also has been trying to interfere in the functioning of educational institutions. It had already changed omitted several chapters of Mughals and gave more prominence to Maratha Empire and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Class VII History text book.
On the other hand, BJP MP Gopal Shetty questioned the opposition parties’ move to organise rally on Republic Day. He said, “No political party should organise such rally on January 26 and August 15 as we have remaining days of the year to hold such events. Citizens should at least remain united for one day then only we will be able to send message to the world that we are one united nation. The four judges have tarnished the reputation of the judiciary and Congress will further degrade it. We are organising Tiranga Yatra on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day.”
Of late in Maharashtra, there have been attempts by both Congress and the NCP to forge a united front against the BJP, especially on farm issues. Last year, these two parties were also joined by other smaller parties for a state-wide Sangharsha Yatra (Struggle March) to demand a blanket farm loan waiver.
NCP spokesperson D P Tripathi said, “We selected January 26 to protest, as it was the day when India adopted the Constitution. The Constitution and particularly the fundamental rights of people are under attack. There is urgent necessity to protect the Constitution. Under this government, even the judiciary is not independent! We can see what the Supreme Court judges emphasised in their press conference”.
Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani is also participating in the rally. Mevani had earlier stated that the Modi government is a threat to democracy and constitution.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena MLA Ajay Choudhari said that Republic Day should be spent by displaying respect to the nation. He also said, “This would be the party’s policy pertaining to what their take would be on the rally. If opposition parties want to raise objections against the government’s policy then there are other days for it. Different political parties have different views and I don’t know why they have organised such rally on Republic Day.”
Even threats to freedom of speech and the press have intensified since the BJP government has come to power in the centre. Congress party is holding the Save the Constitution rallies in all district headquarters of the state.
Vikas Kumar Gunjan, Mumbai resident told AV, “Is there a lower level than the Nadir- point? Only the anti- nationals and foes of our country can think of organising such rallies on Republic Day. They need reason to create unrest; right now no one is buying their claims so such rallies are organized to spread rumours.”
Another Mumbaikar, Gajendra Singh said that such rallies should not be organised on Republic Day. He said, “If people want to save democracy, they should vote Congress and its allies out of power. This rally should not be held on Republic day. It is an insult to every decent Indian.”