Nepal Sarkar on Modi path

Key players in Nepali politics today (L-R): Madhav Kumar Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Upendra Yadav
Key players in Nepali politics today (L-R): Madhav Kumar Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Upendra Yadav

After becoming the Prime Minister of India for the third time in a row, Narendra Modi has expressed that democracy has not been lost even though the opposition has repeatedly filed petitions in the Supreme Court to stop the general elections, and despite attempts to abuse the judicial power.

Modi has accused the opposition of abusing judicial power, while the opposition has accused Modi of energising the opposition under the guise of power and power, of misusing power in the elections, and of mobilising the entire power system to defeat the opposition in the past two terms.

To what extent, the Gujarat District Court sentencing Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment in a blasphemy case was a matter of shame for the world’s largest democratic country.

Modi’s third term and judicial controversies

In Prime Minister Modi’s home district Gujarat district court, Gandhi was sentenced to two years in prison and suspended from the post of MP for accusing Modi of corruption. A defamation case was filed against Congress leader Gandhi in the District Court of Gujarat on the basis that Gandhi accused Modi of being corrupt and said that ‘Modi is corrupt’. Purnesh Modi, a member of the Gujarat State Parliamentary Committee, filed a lawsuit claiming that Gandhi’s speech “has insulted millions of Modis” saying that he is also a member of the Modi community and insulting him is also insulting.

It was not unusual for Gandhi to make the topic of his election campaign based on the angry political speech of the leader of the opposition made in the political meeting, the fact that he was imprisoned for two years and suspended from the post of MP and the decision of the district was upheld even by the High Court.

It was natural for Congress leader Gandhi to make the judicial action against him the topic of the election campaign about how far the Modi government could fall. There is a review going on in India about how much Modi has used power and misused power, but it has been confirmed that the people were not completely happy with Modi even as the number of seats that Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party expected to win and the votes from the religious site that he expected to win did not come true.

In the ‘Modi insult’ case, which reached the Supreme Court and the sentence against Gandhi was stayed, a maximum sentence of two years was imposed by the district court in Gujarat for the expression of insults. Pointing out that even though the Gujarat High Court has upheld the decision of the district; the Supreme Court is hearing the appeal by postponing the sentence imposed by the lower court.

An article dated August 4, 2023, in the Supreme Court Observer newspaper on which the Supreme Court is considering the basis on which the lower courts imposed the maximum sentence of two years on Gandhi has been analysed in detail. It is not easy to tell whether the accusations of Modi levelling the opponent in the context of insults are justified or whether the accusations levelled by the opposition against Modi are justified. But based on the facts and evidence, even the Supreme Court is considering this matter and since the Indian Supreme Court is always in favour of democracy, media and conscious people from all over the world are watching the judicial proceedings with interest.

Similar political challenges in Nepal

Not only in India, similar questions have been raised in Nepal for a long time. In particular, the ruling party has been accused of using the courts, authorities and the police to crack down on the opposition. It has become the duty of every democracy-loving citizen to observe judicial appointments including the Supreme Court, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the appointments to be made in the Election Commission from this point of view.

The practice of ruling leaders making comments, propaganda and discussions against them on the subject of legal action has also started to appear in our country. The news published about the police raiding a cooperative in which a member of a powerful minister or leader’s family is involved shows how far the power-hungry people can be subjected to official disobedience.

As soon as they get into office, it is refreshing to choose this path of leaders who are concerned with the freedom of expression of the media and the people. Those who love freedom of speech should be ashamed when people who have been fighting for freedom of speech all their lives show such behaviour

Now, if news is written about a minister, the minister’s wife will file a defamation complaint against the media and file a petition in the Press Council saying that she will be denied time and again.

From this, it can be understood that the leaders used to silence the opponents and harass the opponents in any way they could. It is a shame for a living democracy to believe that one cannot write against, speak against, question or sing the praises of those in office. If the society cannot or hesitates to ask such questions, naturally the leaders of such society will either become corrupt or autocratic.

After Pushpa Kamal Dahal became the Prime Minister, his family members reached various positions. They want power and authority, they want a minister or a mayor, their daughters and relatives have been appointed here and there to earn positions. This is a fact. Based on this fact, when someone makes a political comment about the Dahal family, can it be an insult to the Dahal community or not? How appropriate is the trend of jailing those who reveal the story of Dahal Raj and his misuse of power? A single guess will suffice. The same rule applies to other ministers and also applies to the Home Minister or Defense Minister.

Calls for accountability and transparency

The Dahal family now has access to all the power and resources of the state, but why is the same access not available to the family of common people? A society that does not even get to review this can be democratic or not? That is, what is the family of a person in power doing? Where is his investment, from where did he take the loan or in which bank or cooperative is he allowed to question or not? Is it news that a leader invested in a cooperative or his wife took a loan from the cooperative? If not, why did the members of the cabinet have to disclose their assets every year? If such a discussion becomes the subject of police action or court action, such action is a matter of misfortune for democracy.

It is not undemocratic to ask how much wealth or debt a minister has, the practice of hiding is undemocratic, and the system of not being able to question is undemocratic. The discussion of abuse of power does not end here. Who has been appointed to which position of the government? What powerless man has been appointed as a judge? Which company’s chairperson or general manager has been appointed without compensation or transaction?

In the appointment of the judge, it is difficult to say that there is no influence or pressure from the party or the party leader. Whether the case is directly pressed or not, does not matter unless the adjudicating judge is a disinterested appointee.

The main opposition Nepali Congress General Minister Gagan Thapa addressed a programme last Saturday and discussed the misuse of power by the current government. Thapa also urged the entire party ranks to oppose such trends as there is a tendency to influence the court, influence the bases, influence the constitutional bodies, tempt, mislead and tempt all of them and there is a possibility of persecuting the workers of his party.

The society has to test the truth of Thapa’s statement, the main opposition leader. When his party was in power, wasn’t there a job of luring or threatening these bodies under the guise of power? There was no corruption? Wasn’t there a consultation on the appointment? Were the powerless not castrated? Review required. It cannot be said that power was not misused in his time too, but that mistake will never confirm the mistake of today.

The ruling party has been making appointments to the Supreme Court, authorities and constitutional bodies and taking various actions to fulfil its agenda. Even the judiciary is politicised, corrupted and fishing in murky waters.

Glimpses of the action being taken in the name of ‘Modi insult’ in the Indian court have also appeared in the court of Nepal. There has been a situation where the advocates of freedom of speech should be worried about the fact that court action has been started against the Nepali media for questioning the leader. Isn’t it clear that the power of the expression is increasing just by taking the form of a precedent, reaching the courts of the same expression?

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Bhattarai is a law student.

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