CONTROVERSY OVER ART 356 IN CORPORATE MEDIA
KOLKATA: In the haste to toady up to Mamata Banerjee and her MPs, the corporate media have conveniently let slip of the fact that in 1977, then Congress government had exceeded its quinquennial term and was banking on a new draconian Constitutional proviso (i.e., Amendment 46) to see it carry on with depleted numbers.
The Trinamuli supremo has repeatedly ‘quoted’ members of the fawning ‘Sushil Samaj’ of right-wing, self-proclaimed ‘intellectuals,’ that dates for the Assembly election in Bengal, due in 2011, following the Lok Sabha poll results, would be brought forward using Art 356, ‘an instrument which the Left had used in 1977 to pull down a Congress government,’ a double-lie.
It was the then Congress-supportive CPI that brought the issue up the Assembly in March of 1977 (the CPI–M had rightly chosen to boycott what was an Assembly set up in the ugly aftermath of mass-rigging in 1972). The CPI legislators pointed out to the Speaker of the anomaly going on and also adjunctly referred to the results of the Lok Sabha elections where the non-Congress opposition had won 38 seats leaving Congress lagging way behind with four.
The 42nd Amendment was to be used principally to allow Congress-run state governments in five other states also to have an extended lease of draconian lives for six years. The Amendment was hastily passed in both houses of parliament. The CPI (M) had then pointed out that the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls had been a popular verdict against all draconian measures inclusive of the counter-democratic and anti-people Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and the 42nd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, and all other such measures designed to build up an authoritarian régime at the centre, leaving the states’ rights severely curtailed.
Following the pressure of the CPI (M) and five other Left parties, the new union government passed in parliament the 43rd Amendment that made the earlier amendment null and void, opening the way out for holding of elections in due time not only in Bengal but in other states as well, states that were due to go for polls. President’s rule was clamped on in Bengal. Elections were held. The rest is history, and the annals of people’s struggle can never be distorted -- for the sake of trifling, opportunistic, and short-term political mileage -- enshrined as the events of the past are forever in the history of the nation’s body politic.