Righting a wrong


More damning than just the lifting of the ban is the court's observation that the state government might have arrived at the decision without even bothering to go through the book that runs into over 600 pages. Indeed, it is doubtful if responsible persons in the government had applied themselves before banning the controversial book. True, there are references in the book to India's "Iron Man" Sardar Patel. But odd mentions must be understood in the totality of the argument that the author makes throughout the book. Such a holistic picture can be had only if the book is given a thorough reading, not just by picking up sentences in isolation. Notwithstanding this, this book-banning tendency smacks of intolerance and is not the right way to go about governance in a democracy. It strikes at the very roots of the ideals of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution. By setting aside the ban, the high court has quickly upheld this basic freedom.

For the BJP leadership, the implications of the court ruling, however, go far beyond. Modi had ordered the ban from Shimla, where he was attending the BJP's chintan baitak, within hours of Jaswant Singh's summary expulsion from the party. Like the case of the book ban, the reason given for the expulsion too was the alleged objectionable remarks on Patel. If, therefore, the ban is unreasonable, it also calls into question the wisdom of the expulsion. Many, in fact, have already wondered if any top BJP leader involved in taking the decision on Jaswant Singh's expulsion had read the book. Probably, not. This being the case, the expulsion too cannot any longer be defended merely on the ground hitherto cited.

True, Jaswant Singh will not be able to successfully challenge, if he can challenge at all, his expulsion. It is a political decision by a political party. At the same time, the BJP leadership cannot any longer hope to carry public opinion with it if it continued to justify the expulsion, citing the book's reference to Patel. It is a different matter if it comes up with another reason to defend its action against the leader who has been a founding member of the party.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry