Telangana MLA’s decision to boycott swearing-in in presence of speaker from rival party sets a dangerous precedent

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Updated: January 8, 2019 11:06:08 AM

T Raja Singh, a BJP MLA from Telangana, has now refused to take oath in the presence of the state Assembly’s pro-tem speaker, Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, who belongs to a rival party.

When political differences are made polarising and toxic, the eventual casualty is democracy. T Raja Singh, a BJP MLA from Telangana, has now refused to take oath in the presence of the state Assembly’s pro-tem speaker, Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, who belongs to a rival party. Singh has dubbed Khan’s party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) “anti-Hindu”. Singh may have bones to pick with AIMIM’s politics, but politicising the institution of the Speaker in such a virulent manner, who is constitutionally bound to rise above party politics, not only sets a dangerous precedent but also weakens the office and, by extension, the Constitution itself.

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Singh should keep in mind that, rightly or wrongly, the BJP is seen by many—and not just rival parties but also commoners—as “anti-Muslim”. If every lawmaker owing allegiance to rival parties were to take a stand similar to his, governance in 16 NDA-ruled states could get affected severely, if not come to a complete standstill. Singh’s other points of difference with AIMIM, as per a Times of India report, is that the party refuses to raise the Bharat Mata ki Jai slogan/salutation. But, such a narrow view of patriotism is what has led to entrenched communal polarisation. If a Muslim citizen of India says Hindustan Zindabad or Jai Hind instead of Bharat Mata ki Jai, does that make her less Indian or invested in the idea of India? For that matter, irrespective of her religion, if she does all that is expected of the average citizen and doesn’t raise any slogan/salutation, should her patriotism come under question? And if lawmakers use toxic polarisation to consolidate electoral benefit, can the masses be really blamed for lynching and riots?

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