DC Edit | Bulldozer raj is wrong, laws must be followed
There is a certain irresistible appeal for the frontbenchers amongst the cineaste to whistle at such a Robin Hood approach
Every state leader wants to be a bulldozer baba. And our two-pence wager — if it was originally conceived as a plot for a Bollywood or south Indian film, it would have been a hit, too. Not surprisingly, politically too, it seems to be perceived as a successful ploy worth emulating; and thus the bulldozer travelled, quickly, from Uttar Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh.
The underlying psychological ploy is to recast the image of the head of the government of a state into a larger than life rebel, who works with means outside the playbook, beyond the rules of the system, to target and punish, quickly, those who would otherwise get away from punishment within the purview of law. There is a certain irresistible appeal for the frontbenchers amongst the cineaste to whistle at such a Robin Hood approach to setting things right.
Removing the sentimental manipulation involved, rational analysis shows that structurally this is a manner of one pillar of democracy, the executive, de facto empowering itself to bypass both the legislative and the judiciary.
It is a statement of accusation that the executive feels neither the laws passed by the legislative house, nor the speed of delivery in the criminal justice system, are good enough to meet the muster of popular confidence; and therefore both necessitates and justifies, arm-twisting of law and brazenly bulldozing the House.
It is both problematic and dangerous to play this game for just that reason; in a democracy the rule of law is the core and most sacred value to ensure a society is civilised and modern.
Thus, mobs demand instant bulldozing and the chief minister, in this case, of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, gives a go ahead for this tactic for the first time in his fourth term as the leader of the government.
The move to bulldoze homes of those who are suspects in cases of communal violence, or any other heinous crime, is beyond the ambit of law; and refuting the politics of whistling and jeering mobs, their dark visceral motive does democracy no good.
But it is only half the story. The propensity to weaponise street and instant justice to politically appeal to those who seek it and to allow the agents of the State, armed with government power and near-immunity against action, sanctions State-powered lynching.
This is the closest we have gotten to the possibility of a communal-inclined government or ruling party inflicting huge damage on some people, purportedly because they are accused of certain crimes, and also psychologically inflicting huge damage and instilling fear amongst a much larger group it does not approve of.
This must be seen as removing the role of our independent judiciary systemically, by not even bringing cases before courts, or even having to register them, but punish those accused, in violation of a sacred, fundamental, natural canon of justice — of allowing the accused a fair trial and opportunity for defence.
The policeman cannot be fused into a superhero — who can charge, judge and punish — and wreck our system and bulldoze the house. In this case, the House would be Parliament, the courts and our Constitution.