“Whither is our democracy bound?”—It can be said that the present time is marked by a deterioration of circumstances in which such questions can be raised. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and its fraternal organisations have defined democracy in their own terms. These organisations have also tried to define citizenship to suit their agenda by trying to determine who is an Indian and a patriot as well as who are anti-nationals. As a result, the fundamental ideas about free speech have also transformed. It has been seen that the ruling party and its fraternal organisations have given priority to those who are their ideological allies when it comes to appointing the heads of institutions of higher education and research in the country. A parallel may be drawn between the situation that prevails today and the curtailment of free speech during the emergency in the 1970s. During emergency, it was not possible for independent writers to publish articles or broadcast radio plays in government media unless they maintained the interests of Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family or promoted the twenty point programme and the five point programme introduced by Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Even private newspapers were censored or they succumbed to the iron grip of the government. The situation today is more or less the same if not worst.
Author: Haidar Hussain
Haidar Hussain is an Assamese political commentator. He has been a journalist for the last five decades. He was the editor of and later chief editor of the highest circulated Assamese newspaper, Axomiya Pratidin.
Again, some days ago, the controversial Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia came to Assam and created yet another hullabaloo in the state. He visited an arms training camp organized by the outfit in Hojai in central Assam