Friday, February 22, 2019
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BJP planning 'major assault' on Constitution: Tharoor

New Delhi
The BJP government is looking to make a"major assault"on the Constitution if the ruling party gets a majority in both the Houses of Parliament, says Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who feels the attack on various constitutional provisions, like Article 370 on Kashmir and secularism, will be part of attempts to create a"Hindu rashtra"(nation).
Tharoor, a second-time Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, also feels that the Congress and like-minded secular parties should come together on a common platform to resist the Hindutva onslaught in the next Lok Sabha elections. Even the Left parties could come on that platform post elections if necessary, according to him.
"I think a lot of their real agenda is waiting for the time when they have both Houses under their control. And once they do, I think you can certainly look to a major assault on the Constitution.
"Then the question is, will the Supreme Court stand by the basic structure doctrine and interpret it to include these principles of equality, freedom of religion, freedom of worship, non-discrimination, etc, which would make it impossible to reduce the Constitution to the document of a religiously-derived majoritarianism,"Tharoor told IANS in an interview.
He recalled that during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Atal Behari Vajpayee, a constitution review committee was formed under former Supreme Court judge MN Venkatachaliah, but it didn't work on the idea of a Hindu rashtra.
But, Tharoor said, it seems a committee under KN Govindacharya, an ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS), is working for the present dispensation, according to media reports and interviews, which have never been challenged.
Govindacharya has already talked with some candour to journalists about what he is trying to do.
"He says socialism, secularism, all that will have to go. If they are embarking on such a project, I think they are quite serious about it. The only thing is that they probably felt this would be too much of a risk to be taken on in the first term, unless they also have a majority in the Rajya Sabha."
Tharoor said the BJP doesn't have a two-thirds majority now because almost no other party is going to go along with its approach.
"So, I think they were really hoping, and perhaps unrealistically hoping, to consolidate two-thirds majority in both Houses and then go for the kill. Rather than fighting the battle prematurely, when they could lose."Meanwhile, he said, the BJP did some"test-drives"like the triple talaq bill as one way of trying to get an issue that they believe will both be dog-whistle at their hardcore base and at the same time test their strength on an issue of religious significance.
"But once they get two-thirds in both Houses, I do believe the Constitution, including Article 370 on Kashmir... on the Hindu rashtra concept, on use of words socialism, secularism, all of these would be up for grabs. There is little doubt about it."


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