There is a calculated attempt to delegitimise the judiciary, Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday, even as she attacked the Narendra Modi government for refusing to discuss the India-China border issue in Parliament.
Ms. Gandhi made these remarks while addressing the party’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, including party president Mallikarjun Kharge, at the general body meeting of the CPP at Parliament’s Central Hall.
In a scathing attack, Ms. Gandhi said the Modi government’s refusal to a parliamentary debate showed ‘disrespect to democracy and poorly reflected the government’s intentions”. Silence on matters of serious concern had a defining of this government, she added.
“A troubling new development is the calculated attempt under way to delegitimise the judiciary. Ministers — and even a high constitutional authority — have been enlisted to making speeches attacking the judiciary on various grounds. It is quite clear that this is not an effort to provide reasonable suggestions for improvement. Rather, it is an effort to reduce the standing of the judiciary in the eyes of the public,” Ms. Gandhi alleged.
Her remarks come after the recent run-ins between the government and the Supreme Court over a number of issues including appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. Apart from regularly targeting the judiciary, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju recently told the Rajya Sabha that the issue of vacancies in the higher judiciary would linger till a new system of appointment was created.
Earlier this month, Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar had also criticised the judiciary for scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill that sought to change the present system of the Supreme Court Collegium making recommendations for the judgeship.
But the focus of Ms. Gandhi’s speech was the government’s handling of the border issue with China.
‘Ignorant of true situation’
“The continuing incursions by China on our border are a matter of serious concern. The whole nation stands with our vigilant soldiers who repelled these attacks under difficult conditions. The government, however, stubbornly refuses to allow a discussion on the issue in Parliament. As a result, Parliament, political parties and the people remain ignorant of the true situation on the ground,” she said.
“What is the government’s policy to deter China from future incursions? Given that we continue to have a severe trade deficit with China, importing far more than we export, why is there no economic response to China’s military hostility? What is the government’s diplomatic outreach to the global community,” Ms. Gandhi asked.
She said a frank discussion would strengthen the nation’s response and it was the duty of the government of the day to inform the public. On Wednesday, the Congress-led Opposition MPs stepped up their demand for a discussion on China by protesting in front of the Parliament House and later staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha after Speaker Om Birla didn’t agree to a discussion.
Face-off in Tawang
On December 9, Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh and the face-off resulted in minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides. A statement was made in Parliament by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after the incident but the Opposition has been demanding a full-fledged discussion.
Talking about the recently concluded elections, Ms. Gandhi said the Congress formed its government in Himachal Pradesh but termed the results in Gujarat and Delhi “unfortunate”. Congratulating party colleagues in the hill State for their victory, she said, “Now, it is time to fulfil the promises made to the people of Himachal”.
The Congress leader also noted that the economic situation continued to be distressing, with price rise and unemployment going up. She also complimented Rahul Gandhi and party workers for the on-going Bharat Jodo Yatra.