By Binoy Viswam
After assuming the office, President Droupadi Murmu tweeted, “Johar! Namaskar, I humbly greet all the fellow citizens from this sacred Parliament, a symbol of the hopes, aspirations, and rights of all the citizens of India. Your affection, trust and support will be my greatest strength in discharging my functions and responsibilities.” In her acceptance speech in the historic Central Hall of the Parliament she communicated the same spirit with the audience. Naturally the whole country looks at the new President with good wishes and expectations.
For the first time, a woman born in a poor, tribal family has risen to the highest constitutional position of the biggest democracy in the world. In her short speech Droupadi Murmu was trying to be justful to her humble background and meaningful hopes. She made her promises to the women, youth, and the poor of the country. Narrating her tribal tradition, the President underlined the importance of forests and water bodies to signify her commitment to the protection of environment. Taking note of her words, one would only say that the beginning was good.
What will happen to her dreams? Every sensible citizen watching the happenings in the country would raise this question. There is every likelihood that her words will become a challenge for herself in the coming days, as her dreams and BJP government’s policies cannot go hand in hand. The propaganda machinery nurtured by RSS-BJP have worked overtime to reap political mileage from Murmu’s ascendance to the presidential post. They use her name and tribal origin to masquerade their anti-poor policies. More they need to hide their anti-Dalit, anti-tribe, anti-women policies, the more they use her name and tribal origin. The fanfare they make around Droupadi Murmu is to create an illusionary image of the BJP as pro-Adivasi and pro-women. It is an absolute lie built up only on their propaganda skills.
An organisation founded on the fundamentalist world view of chathurvarnya cannot become anything else overnight. Still the spokespersons of RSS-BJP have suddenly begun to speak about Adivasi rights and women empowerment. They owe an explanation to the nation, whether they can distance themselves from Manusmriti which commands ‘na sthree swathanthryam arhati’. This vision has led the RSS to the extent of denying their membership to any woman of the country till this date. The plight of Women Reservation Bill will continue to remain as a question mark before the new President. Will she be able to convince the Modi government to enact the bill which was initiated twenty-six years back?
While entering the Rashtrapati Bhavan Droupadi Murmu is expected to remember the slogan, “Jal, Jameen, Jungle”. It is the outcry of the tribal population of India whose rights on forests, place of inhabitancy and drinking water are robbed by the corporate looters, in connivance with the government in power. With her genuine regard President Murmu eulogised the greatness of India calling it a mother of democracy. The citizens of India genuinely urge her to be mindful about the serious challenges faced by democracy in India, that too at the 75thyear of independence.
Our constitutional values such as sovereignty, secularism, and socialism are under constant threat. The threat becomes graver as it originates from the very forces in power. The same forces who celebrate Droupadi Murmu with insincere hue and cry are trying to undermine the basis structure of India, as embodied in the Constitution. Inspired by certain aggressive ideology from abroad, the ministry of culture has designed a plan to study on racial purity. Needless to say, how these game plans would affect the democratic-cultural ideals of India, which Droupadi Murmu termed as the source of her energy.
The country remembers how President Ram Nath Kovind was welcomed to the very same seat five years ago, when the RSS and BJP were boasting that they champion the cause of Dali rights. It was during the same period the country had to witness the largest number of atrocities on Dalits, women and minorities unleashed by casteist forces and their corporate masters. It was also during this time India has become the world’s poverty capital with 83 million people living in extreme poverty. The aspirations of the new President who was born, “in tribal tradition which has lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years” are likely to confront with most of the socio-economic policies and ideological positions of the government.
If she dares to stand by her words, the government’s move to amend rules to the forest conservation Act may turn into her first point of clash with the political mentors. Her positions on vital issues such as minority rights, interests of the oppressed are going to be crucial. Indian democracy will be eager to know about her approach to the developments in the Parliament. There, the Opposition is considered to be at par with the government. What will she do when the government is craving to convert it into a ‘Bhakta Jana Sabha’? On such issues her personal integrity may not be sufficient to fulfil her responsibility as the President of India. Such occasions warrant more ideological and political clarity from the new President! (IPA Service)