All incidents affect. Some incidents affect more.
All statements don’t come as answers. Some come as questions too. Freedom of
speech is good. But freedom to tell the truth is even better.

Right to rule comes with a duty and responsibility.
But the right to fool comes with arrogance, inabilities and a sense of false
entitlement. Freedom is directly related to duty. In essence its character is
deontological.

To start with, let’s talk about the freedom to
exercise freedom. And what makes more sense; freedom with responsibility or
freedom with irresponsibility. The other day while the golden jubilee
celebrations of Delhi high court were on at Vigyan Bhavan, something unexpected
occurred.

In the presence of the Chief Justice of India and
the Prime Minister, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “There is a
widespread fear that the phones of judges are being tapped and if it is true,
then it is the biggest assault on the independence of the judiciary.” When
freedom extends to irresponsible statements, it must be interpreted as
paranoia. It seems that Kejriwal is unable to rise above his party’s
priorities. Maybe it has blurred his vision and rationality.

He is a master at the blame game and most of his
colleagues are political upstarts who sing his tune. What was even more
shocking was that no one present on the dais, especially the judges, either
confronted him or contradicted his statement. After all it’s a very serious
matter.

It’s about the constitutionally empowered
independence of judiciary. It’s about the status of judges. And it’s about a
system that thrives on faith and mutual respect, based on the constitutionally
endorsed philosophy of checks and balances. So the public has a right to know
the truth, the truth in all its textures.

After all, it’s a serious allegation and it came
from no less than a constitutionally elected authority. So the nation must know
the truth. But perhaps the judges present there didn’t find it appropriate to
react as their chief was already present on the dais. We know soldiers don’t
like to respond when the general is present. But the silence of the CJI is
equally intriguing; though not very difficult to comprehend.

Maybe he too thought there is a proper time and
place for everything and that making an issue of it would be indecorous. After
all, it was not a debate session, it was the golden jubilee celebration of the
Delhi High Court.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad realized the
seriousness of the issue and came out with a statement forthwith saying: “I
deny with all authority at my command the allegations that phones of judges
have been tapped. Independence of judiciary is fundamental, impeachable and
uncompromising for the Narendra Modi government.’’ Now the legal community
should demand proof from the Delhi CM for assurance of people.

Kejriwal must stop seeing everything with a
political glass. He must think of better coordination with the Centre so as to
build a model capital. People feel that Kejriwal has failed miserably in
creating a desired harmony. His antagonistic approach on all issues is a
dangerous political device.

His rigidity and his conditioned thinking are
deleterious to growth and betterment of the city. It seems Kejriwal’s claims
and promises are being debunked by disillusioned Delhi’ites. The second topic
that must be highlighted is the way the tragic suicide of a subedar in
connection with the One Rank-One Pension issue was mishandled. There is too
much of bizarre politics about such a heart breaking and soul stirring issue.

When a soldier commits suicide, a nation’s
conscience is put on the gallows. But instead of soberly seeking to understand
the reason for the tragedy, what we find is the shocking and baffling behavior
of our political parties and politicians. The government should be asked how it
can stop leaders from meeting the family members of the deceased soldier in the
hospital.

The nation belongs to all so also the citizens. It’s
the normal duty of public representatives to visit the affected family to show
solidarity with them. It mitigates the severity of bereavement. This human side
apart, even the constitutionality of denying the basic right to public
representatives is called into question. Does not the chief minister of the
state have a right to visit a hospital to see the family of the deceased? Can’t
the leaders of political parties come there to show their concern?

What’s wrong in that? The police denied access to
both the Delhi CM and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and took them into
custody on the ground that their presence may disturb smooth operations at the
hospital but most people understood their real motive. It’s not the first time
that VIPs have visited a hospital. The government’s advisers must introspect,
shed their arrogance or fear and act sensibly.

They must know that wrong advice based on a
misplaced fear can land the government in bigger problems. Had there been no
obstructions to the people’s representatives visiting the family of the
deceased soldier, I doubt if this issue would have snowballed into a major
issue. The third event of note is the saga of Uttar Pradesh’s so-called first
family.

It sounds more like a story of conspiracies of the
medieval era than one of politics of the 21st century in democratic India. The
nation is fed with news of such undemocratic flavor that it becomes difficult
to digest. Who has how many wives? Whose children call the shots? Which one of
Mulayam’s wives conspires for what? Who all are the henchmen?

Who is the other ambitious son? Why was Akhilesh
away from his father from childhood? What will happen to the family? One day
it’s between father and son, the next day between uncle and nephew and the
third day between two brothers with a third one coming out with something new.
And the next day they are all back together wearing smiles.

And when some of the actors say “we may be divided
but Muslims are with us’’ it is truly beyond comprehension. In fact, instead of
talking about their vision to make UP a real Uttam Pradesh, political leaders
are are talking of who is with them. Some say Dalits are ours, some say Muslims
are ours, some say it’s the MY – Muslim and Yadav – combination that will work
while others say the Brahmin support is vital. But who is talking about development
and a secure future for people. All this is happening in a country with
innumerable problems – malnutrition, farmers’ suicides, unemployment, rise in
pollution, dirty rivers, communal strife and what not.

To cap it all there is growing poverty, sickness and
lack of infrastructure to bear the burden of a huge population. How long will
these apathies prevail in Indian politics and how long we will have to be
silent witness to our own downfall is something that provokes the mind and
fills the heart with unspeakable pain. Only a people-oriented mindset can
change this chaotic political culture. There is no doubt that destructive
politics and amoral politicians pose the greatest danger to us.

The writer is Chairman, Paras Foundation.