I would have liked to quote an Indian MP, but I couldn’t find a speech that is close. But here are excerpts from a famous speech to the US Senate in 1950, called the Declaration of Conscience speech (in blue), by the late American senator Margaret Chase Smith
It is strange that we can verbally attack anyone else without restraint and with full protection and yet we hold ourselves above the same type of criticism here on the Senate Floor. Surely the United States Senate is big enough to take self-criticism and self-appraisal. Surely we should be able to take the same kind of character attacks that we “dish out” to outsiders.
I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching—for us to weigh our consciences….on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges. I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation.
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:
The right to criticize;
The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
The right to protest;
The right of independent thought.
The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood… The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared as “Communists” or “Fascists” by their opponents. Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others. The American people are sick and tired of seeing innocent people smeared and guilty people whitewashed.
There are those in our government and our media who follow an unwritten law. The Official Indecency Act. Chief among its practitioners are Congress spokesmen Manish Tiwari and Digvijay Singh. In the media you have the likes of Nandita Rao (CNN-IBN panelist) and again another Congressman V. Narayanaswamy. It does not take great intelligence to recognise these personalities as some of the most foul-mouthed people in the public domain. Yet the media delights again and again in putting them on your screens and in your drawing rooms. The filth that follows is unbelievable. The worst is character assassination, smearing and tarnishing of reputations and of course frequently calling others RSS agents and fascists, anarchists and Maoists.
Media doesn’t get to choose the spokespersons of the political parties. Yet they can choose who they invite on their panels. A Manish Tiwari maybe the Congress party’s choice. There is no need for the media to choose him on panels unless they deliberately enjoy the theatre of the foul-mouth. Same goes for those who invite the likes of Nandita Rao or Narayanaswamy.
In the current Anna Hazare stalemate, when asked if this was like the Emergency of 1975, Ram Jethmalani replied on CNN-IBN, that it is even worse. He explained that a court order had dethroned Indira Gandhi, there was a threat of her losing power, her government falling and therefore declared Emergency. But the current UPA is facing no such threat of any kind and yet chose to act in the most indecent and arrogant manner that any government in a democracy could. At the top of the pile is a Prime Minister who is simply lost and has proved to be the worst measure of lack of leadership.
So we had three stooges, P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni eloquently explaining how the government was not involved in the Delhi police decision to impose sec.144 and bar Anna Hazare from holding his hunger-strike and then making a preventive arrest. The arrogance and audacity with which they mislead the nation and attempt to whitewash their wrongs had to be seen to be believed. And then you previously had those that called Hazare an anarchist, a fascist and much earlier Ramdev was called a ‘thug’. What have these crooks taken the people for?
This was backed up by foul-mouthed media experts like Nandita Rao who has problems with Anna Hazare dictating terms on the Lokpal bill. There are also others like Tavleen Singh and some more. Now the issue at hand is first not the Lokpal bill itself. The issue has now turned into deliberately and illegally arresting individuals and denying them their right to protest. And the piety with which the three stooges defended the 22 obscene conditions imposed on Anna Hazare for the protest can only be described as a mockery of our constitution and mockery of our democracy. These people who cite our constitution, law and order are usually the ones who frequently abuse it. Many should remember that Ambika Soni herself has the Emergency to credit for her rise to prominence.
The Digvijays and Tiwaris have really gone a step too far in calling the agitators fascists and communal and being funded by invisible right-wingers. Fingers were pointed at pictures of Bharat mata or chants of Vande Mataram as proof of anti-nationals and right-wingers being involved in the protests earlier. Seriously, pictures of Bharat mata or chanting Vande Mataram are symbols of anti-national right-wingers and fascists? This time the scandalous crime that the Congress has tried to perpetrate has failed. Their propaganda stooges in the media have failed. No matter how much spin they tried, the NDTVs and CNN-IBNs failed.
The concept that parliament is the supreme law making body is certainly not misplaced. But the law makers need to be guided by ordinary people and not vested interests. The rulers in a democracy cannot rule without the consent of those being ruled. The one vote every five years is not a blanket sanction to pass any and all laws. It is particularly NOT a sanction to indulge in corruption and loot the nation. When that happens, parliament surrenders its supremacy and ordinary people must intervene. When that happens people power will definitely prevail over parliamentary authority. People power will definitely prevail when governments do what they have not been authorised to do by an electoral mandate. Corruption is one of those. What vote or what constitution has authorised our government and our MPs to indulge in such unprecedented corruption?
Those who call Anna Hazare’s demands for the Janlokpal as street laws are simply foolish. In a democracy every individual or group has the right to demand a law or demand the removal of a law. It is for the government of the day to discuss, negotiate and arrive at sensible solutions. The behaviour of the current PM is all the more reason why he should be under the Lokpal, but that is an altogether different issue. He should have stepped up and said “I am the Boss, and I will talk to you”. He did not. The people will then need to show the government who the boss is. Why only PM, I want even the media brought under Lokpal. One can prove any day that our media is not only corrupt that it is also a frequent law-breaker. Anna Hazare and company have not held railways, roads, buses and airlines to ransom or held up normal life to ransom unlike many other agitations have. To deny them the right to protest with absurd conditions and then arresting them is the last resort of a frightened, fascist government. And the government must and always should fear the people and not the other way around.
To back up their indecent and foul-mouthed statements, the Congress has now backed it up with indecent and unconstitutional action. If peaceful protests are drowned then violent ones are likely to follow. This UPA is quite clearly the most corrupt and dangerous government this nation has ever had. The media should also learn a lesson now that all their propaganda will not help when people power takes over. They need to really play the role of the watch dog. Foul mouthed politicians and activists should not be allowed an excessive platform in the media. The official indecency Act must die.