Appeasement is only power play for votes, say political analysts
Lucknow: Back in 2013, the newly formed Samajwadi Party (SP) government in Uttar Pradesh — led by India’s then youngest chief minister Akhilesh Yadav — tried to appease the Muslim community by announcing the withdrawal of cases against Muslim leaders booked for the Muzaffarnagar riots, but this step was termed as “Muslim appeasement”.
Now, with the Kairana bypoll scheduled for May 28, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh announced that he would get cases against Jats withdrawn by holding dialogues with the communities. The move was followed by other political parties highlighting how appeasement by withdrawing cases has become a key political plank in poll-bound areas.
Veteran journalist JP Shukla, formerly with The Hindu, recalled that during Akhilesh’s rule, the state law department had issued a letter to withdraw cases against BSP MP Kadir Rana, MLAs Noor Saleem Rana, Maulana Jameel Ahmad, former Congress minister Saeed-uz-Zaman, his son Salman Saeed, community leaders Asad Zama, Naushad Qureshi, trader Ahsan and a certain Sultan Mashi.
The law department sent a letter with 13 points to the district chiefs and police chiefs, but the decision was challenged by a lawyer in the court, putting the state government on the back foot, Shukla said. Explaining appeasement politics by parties that come to power, he said it’s nothing but an attempt to save people who favour them, and create trouble for those who oppose them.
“It is in the political culture of our country that the party in power does its best to save those who favour them, like what Akhilesh Yadav tried to do, and what the present state government is trying to. These people use administrative, executive and police powers for this,” Shukla adds.
Citing an example of the former Bahujan Samaj Party government, Shukla said that when Mayawati was in power, she made sure that every leader from the opposition who tried to protest in public, was booked under IPC Section 143, 144 or other sections. “This has been the practice for ages. It’s nothing new,” he said, adding that the only thing that differs is the degree of appeasement. “Mulayam Singh Yadav did it blatantly by favouring Amarmani Tripathi, who murdered a young poetess. The Haryana government, which withdrew close to 400 cases against Jats, too did it openly,” Shukla said.
Lawyer Ratnesh Awasthi, who practices at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, said that cases which are “politically motivated” should be withdrawn in public interest and proper guidelines must be drawn up for such a process.
“Cases are withdrawn only with the consent of the court and it is not to be confused with concurrence. The government only initiates the process and pleads with the court to withdraw such cases in public interest. The final call is taken by the court,” he said. The lawyer declined to comment further, saying the judiciary would not allow injustice to happen with anyone.
Another senior political commentator, Ratanmani Lal, suggested there are three reasons why a government attempts appeasement — to fulfill election promises and support their campaigns, appease the people who favour the government and to protect their own people.
“Appeasement cannot always be communal. For instance in Kashmir, the government provided amnesty to stone-pelters. Even former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah tried to announce withdrawal of cases against minorities ahead of elections. This has happened several times in most of the states,” he added.
The term political appeasement should be renamed “power play of politics”, Lal said.
Harmful to democracy
While defenders of the practice state that politically motivated cases must be withdrawn in public interest, there are many who believe otherwise. Rajeev Yadav, an office-bearer of Rihai Manchi, a UP-based democratic human rights organisation, said that withdrawing cases under the term “politically motivated” is harmful to our democracy.
“There are hundreds and thousands of people against whom cases are lodged, but the government has made its stand very clear — only political cases will be considered for withdrawal, and that too those registered against firebrand Hindu leaders who dominate that area,” Yadav said. “This is political appeasement and an in-depth analysis will reveal the objective of polarisation behind this step,” he said, adding that it will erode people’s faith in the system.
“Has any state government ever tried to get a fake or politically motivated case withdrawn against a common man? Why is every facility reserved for politicians? In Haryana, it was to save the precious Jat vote bank. The only person who’s affected is the common citizen. A judicial commission should look into these matters,” he said. “It is very clear that the government took this step due to the upcoming bypolls in western Uttar Pradesh and also for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.”
Meanwhile, a highly-placed source in the state law department told 101Reporters that the BJP government has received around 4,000 applications for withdrawing cases, but only 200 applications have been sent to advocates dealing with this matter. The source confessed that BJP president Amit Shah has made it clear that only politically motivated cases will be considered.
According to political commentator RR Jha, a political science professor at Banaras Hindu University, political parties have used appeasement as a powerful tool to woo the public since Independence.
“Politicians have used God, religion, reservation, and are now withdrawing cases. This is a chance to get votes and come to power either by hook or crook. It is people who have the power to bring their choice of person to power. Unfortunately, they often fall for such appeasement,” he said.
Former UP minister and senior SP leader Juhie Singh, when questioned about appeasement politics by former CM Akhilesh Yadav, said the party did not announce withdrawal of cases against Muslim leaders for heinous crimes.“We only announced withdrawal of cases against Muslims who were framed wrongly in the riots. We all know that only this community has suffered. For you, this is appeasement but for us it meant giving justice to the people,” she said.
[This story was originally published in NewsCentral 24×7.]