On Wednesday, March 2, 2005, two monstrous lies were perpetrated on the citizens of the Republic of India, making a mockery of constitutional norms and delivering a body blow to democratic ethics.
The first lie was perpetrated by the governor of Jharkhand, a certain Syed Sibtey Razi who has spent the better part of his life fawning over members of the Nehru-Gandhi family elected from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Indian National Congress, whose members can go to any extent every time Sonia Gandhi snaps 'Fetch!', has perpetrated the second lie.
It is an established fact that the BJP-JD-U alliance has won the largest number of seats in the February assembly election in Jharkhand. With 36 seats, this alliance is ahead of the JMM-Congress alliance whose tally stands at 26.
It is an equally established fact that the BJP-JD-U alliance presented five Independent MLAs before Syed Sibtey Razi while staking their claim to form the next government.
Yet, Syed Sibtey Razi has installed the JMM-Congress alliance in office, anointing Shibu Soren as chief minister. He has then gone on to justify his contemptuous disregard for established norms and practices by telling a blatant lie: that he is convinced the JMM-Congress government born of the unholy union between immoral undemocratic means and amoral political avarice is not lacking in legitimacy.
There is only one explanation for this. Syed Sibtey Razi has behaved in the best traditions of a Congress henchman. His was no considered decision; it was a command performance carried out with brutal precision and shocking brazenness, consequences be damned.
The Congress, of course, has brushed aside the well-founded charge that it manipulated events in Ranchi, turning a situation stacked heavily against it, to its advantage. 'The governor acted on his own, he went by his conscience,' claims the Congress.
That's a lie. And it's a lie twice over.
Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, a Cabinet minister in the UPA government, has been camping inside Raj Bhavan at Ranchi. He has been constantly on the phone, seeking instructions from Sonia Gandhi. It is not 'conscience' that prompted Syed Sibtey Razi to murder democracy, but instructions received from Sonia Gandhi via Priya Ranjan Das Munshi.
Such mind-boggling chicanery as has been witnessed in Jharkhand bodes ill for democracy in India. It brings to mind the shameless manner in which governments have been dismissed and non-governments installed by Congress stooges masquerading as governors every time the Congress has come to power at the Centre.
The Supreme Court's judgment in the S R Bommai case and the Sarkaria Commission report make it abundantly clear that the proper forum to judge the strength of a government is not a governor's office but the floor of the state assembly. But the Congress is not known for honouring either court orders or commission reports.
So we can look forward to Buta Singh, another Congress stooge who now occupies the exalted position of governor in Bihar, installing Rabri Devi as chief minister of Bihar. With the Congress extending its support to the RJD, it is now a given that Lalu Prasad Yadav's rule by conjugal proxy will get a fresh lease of life.
Never mind the fine print of the election results which says the people of Bihar have voted against the RJD. What matters is Sonia Gandhi has decided to have a RJD-Congress government in Bihar. It is the imperial party's divine right to choose who shall rule.
Last summer, when Sonia Gandhi made the grand gesture of 'renouncing' the prime minister's job after listening to her 'inner voice,' she was hailed for her sacrifice.
The fact is quite to the contrary. With a puppet officiating as prime minister, she has been manoeuvring the actions of both the UPA government and the Congress.
India today is not governed from either South Block or North Block; it is ruled from 10, Janpath, Sonia Gandhi's home.
This has been proved repeatedly, most recently in Jharkhand and in recent times in Goa. It shall also be proved in Bihar.
Followed by equally blatant violation of established republican norms and practices in other states.
Democracy is being increasingly imperilled, make no mistake, and like Indira Gandhi in 1975, it is Sonia Gandhi who is to blame for the gathering dark clouds in 2005.
The mischief must be nipped in the bud; the rot must be checked immediately.
President A P J Abdul Kalam can do this, and he must act on the strength of precedence. Also because he is the custodian of the Constitution and the principles of democracy that are now being trampled upon with callous impunity.
Governor Ram Lal dismissed N T Rama Rao's government in Andhra Pradesh in August 1984 because Indira Gandhi so desired, despite the fact that it enjoyed majority support in the assembly, and an illegitimate Congress government, headed by N Bhaskar Rao, was installed. Then, too, it was claimed the governor had acted according to his 'conscience.'
N T Rama Rao led 164 MLAs supporting him (including those from the CPI-M and the CPI) to Rashtrapati Bhavan and confronted Giani Zail Singh with the truth. To his credit, Giani Zail Singh directed that the trial of strength be conducted on the floor of the assembly, an instruction that led to the re-installation of N T Rama Rao's government.
President A P J Abdul Kalam, whose integrity is unimpeachable, should take a similar stand. He can provide restitution for the crime that has been committed in Jharkhand and prevent another crime from taking place in Bihar.
It is amazing how far the Left has travelled along the road of decadent political expediency.
In the past, the Left was in the vanguard of the struggle against the misuse of governor's office and abuse of constitutional provisions by the Congress. It was in the forefront of organising 'Opposition Chief Ministers Conclaves.' The same Left today is a complicit partner of the Congress in its shameless assault on democracy.
As for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he has proven he is unequal to the majesty of the office he holds.
After remaining a mute spectator to the murder of democracy by the government he heads and the party he represents on Wednesday, there's nothing that sets him apart from Syed Sibtey Razi or other lackeys of 10 Janpath who Madam ke liye kuch bhi karega.
Meanwhile, it will be prudent for the UPA government to stop lecturing India's neighbours on the virtues of democracy. Democracies around the world and non-democratic regimes in the neighbourhood are laughing up their sleeves at the pathetic, sorry spectacle of how democracy is practiced by the UPA government in India. Marauders cannot claim to be protectors.