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A grand ceremony is underway in New Delhi. K. T. Ramalingam, the Chief Justice of India has just been sworn in as the Acting President of India at the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. To the world, it appears like the constitutional machinery was working as expected, although under tremendously bizarre circumstances. The President died of a stroke and the Vice President took up the position of Acting President, but also died two weeks later by a helicopter crash. The Chief Justice has now taken that ominous constitutional position, as the acting head of state.

In a little over two weeks, the country has seen three presidents assume office. There is a lot of chatter and theories everywhere. In the small lanes of Chandi Chowk and in the beer pubs of Bangalore; at the Marina Beach and at the corridors of the Supreme Court. Some believe that the Prime Minister was hatching a grand conspiracy to usurp power; others argue that this a insidious ploy by certain foreign governments or agencies. Another theory is that the Chief Justice is behind this. He had recently presided over a bench which overruled a historic precedent, just a week before the President died. The bench ruled that the parliament has an unlimited and unrestrained power to amend the constitution, that this is the correct implication of Article 368 not falling under ‘law’ as per Article 13, and that only the representative body can determine what the basic structure of the constitution ought to be. Some are suspicious of Ramalingam given how events have progressed. Others do not see any connection and stick to different theories.

All opinions and positions changed when Prime Minister Sashikala Banerjee, whose party commanded a thumping majority in the parliament, moved a resolution in the Lok Sabha the next day. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2035 was going to amend over three dozen articles of the Constitution, including its preamble and several of the fundamental rights. “Honourable Speaker”, Banerjee began her speech in a thunderous voice, “we are on the precipice of unprecedented times. We have lost two great leaders who provided incredible service and great leadership to the country. I move this bill in their memory. I am certain they would have appreciated this bill in no small measure. I stand today before this grand house to fulfil the long promises of our forebearers. Many things have gone wrong in this country because we have stuck to European and Western principles and have not followed our own ancient customs, practices, and beliefs. We are a great civilization, one of the finest the world has ever seen, and perhaps the only civilization which has survived the test of time. Some of the early governments hardly bothered to give the importance due to it. More recent governments tried to, but not very well. I stand before you today to fulfil that long commitment and return to the foundation and spirit of which our country has always been based on….”

After an eight-hour incredibly heated session, with a small but a stiff opposition who decried what the government was doing, the Lok Sabha passed the Amending bill. The Rajya Sabha passed it the next day. The President assented on the same day, and the constitution stood amended. Among other things, half of the council of states need not ratify amendments affecting it anymore, the word ‘secular’ is removed from the preamble, so too ‘democratic’ and ‘socialist’. The Preamble now identified the country as a “sovereign republic.” Article 1 removed the word “India”, and it now reads as “Bharat shall be a Union of States.” Article 48 of the Directive Principles, which banned cow slaughter, was moved to Part III as a fundamental right. Article 343 changed the status of Hindi to a national language. Article 351 made Sanskrit the only root for Hindi. Several further changes to the fundamental rights, including added restrictions on freedoms, removal of the right to worship and free exercise of faith clause, and the removal of the word ‘personal liberty’ from the right to life provision. The scope for declaring an emergency is now widened. Along with ‘war’, ‘external aggression’ and ‘armed rebellion’, ‘internal disturbance’ and ‘threat to public order’ have been added as new categories under which Emergency can be proclaimed. Several further changes to the centre-state relations are effectuated.

Demonstrations began in universities and on the roads. Many opposed the amendment on the streets and on digital media and decried that the soul of the country has been ripped apart. Even more took on to the streets to support the amendment and argue that historic wrongs and errors have been rightfully corrected. Television screens blared arguing for and against. With the country jolted, the press chaotic, the intelligentsia puzzled, and the global media unsure, the President and the Prime Minister met at the President’s chambers.

“I didn’t think we will put it off, Sashi”, said Ramalingam. “Of course, we did. I kept telling you to have faith. I know it’s been several years, but you are very impatient” sneered Sashikala. “You have to admit that it was a long shot. When Shastri died… (knock on the door) … come in.” Kiran, the President’s principal secretary walked in. “Sir, the law minister is here” she reported. “Send him in” instructed Ramalingam. As Kiran walked out of the room, Sashi asked Ramalingam, in a rather low tone, “have you told Varun yet?” “No, not yet” he replied.

Varun Awasthi, the Minister of Law and Justice, was a loyal party cadre of the last 35 years. He had served in three central governments earlier and two state governments. Read law from Oxford, called to the Lincoln’s Inn, and having practiced at the Supreme Court for nearly 20 years, he became an advocate-general of the Delhi State Government, and later a solicitor-general, and subsequently an Attorney-General. Known for his keen insight to the law, Varun was a veteran of the judicial system and the politics of government and was known for his intemperate outbursts and candid responses. Sashikala appointed Varun as the Law Minister when she won a landslide victory in the general elections last year. She needed him for the specific task at hand.

“What’s the word, Varun?” queried Ramalingam. “Not good. Several writs challenging the amendment in the Supreme Court. Thakur does not look happy… I think he is considering striking-down” reported Varun. Ramalingam stood up and walked over to the window to his left. He picked up the cigarette pack on the sill, took one out and lit a cigarette. After smoking two puffs without saying a word, while staring out of the window at the central lawns, he looked at Varun and asked, “Thakur is Acting-Chief Justice, correct?” Varun nodded. He took another drag and looked at Sashikala, seated on the couch near him, who gently gave him a nod. “Varun…. What if we appoint Manohar as the next Chief Justice instead? I always hated Thakur, he’s a spineless and lacklustre guy, he will ruin the office and all our efforts!” Varun raised his eyebrows, in partial disbelief, “That will be disastrous. Many others might resign if we supersede.” After another few seconds of silence, Sashikala chimed in, “when we are changing so much, we have to let the old guard go. Those who do not understand our vision should not be allowed to continue, especially in the judiciary.” “That is not what I am here for Sashi” retorted Varun “Yes, I believe in our vision and what we are setting out to achieve…. But you can’t just throw away everyone who disagrees with us. Then someday the people will rise, either by elections or by revolution, and have us deposed and restore the old nonsense. Is that what you want?” Sashikala looked to Ramalingam with a piercing gaze. Ramalingam spoke, in his usual low but authoritative tone, “I think what Sashi meant to say was that we are at such a stage in our mission that we cannot take risks, Varun. Once we establish our vision, things will settle down in due course, but we are still on thin ice. We need to secure our footing.” Varun always looked up to Ramalingam as sagacious, determined, and full of wisdom and historical insight. It was on his insistence that he joined the government. The one person whose counsel Varun finds hard to immediately reject. “I guess… we can appoint Manohar…… but you have will have to speak to him and the other judges.” “I’ll do that” responded Ramalingam, as he stubbed his cigarette. He walked over to his desk, picked up his telephone and pressed on a number. “Kiran, inform Manohar that I want to meet him along with Desai and Panicker tomorrow morning”.
No Bengali (however brainwashed) would ever allow Hindi to become the national language :P
Not true. Let's go back to the beginning. Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
His views on Hindi was quite nuanced

as a leader on the right he could not let go of the idea of a common national language, but coming from a non-hindi speaking province he could not fully assimilate the idea as well. so like everyone he agreed to the official language formula.
That came with a gigantic caveat. So, yeah, but no. Here is an excerpt from the Constituent Assembly debate on 13th September 1949, where Syama Prasad Mukherjee spoke on (now) art. 343:

'India has been a country of many languages. If we dig into the, past, we will find that it has not been possible for anybody to force the acceptance of one language by all people in this country. (...) If it is claimed by anyone that by passing an article in the Constitution of India, one language is going to be accepted by all, by a process of coercion, I say. Sir, that that will not be possible to achieve.

I am not similarly advocating the claims of other languages. You will not call it provincial if I say that I am proud of my own language. It is a language which has not remained as a mere language of the people of Bengal alone. (...) All must feel that nothing has been done in the Constitution which may result in the destruction or liquidation or weakening of any one of these languages.

We will have to decide realistically whether for certain special purposes English should still be continued to be used in India. As some of my friend, have already stated, we might have rid India of British rule-we had reasons for doing so-but that is no reason why you should get rid of the English language. (...) After all, it is on account of that language that the have been able to achieve many things; apart from the role that English has played in unifying India politically. and thus in our attaining political freedom, it opened to us the civilisation of large parts of the world. It opened to us knowledge, specially in the realm of science and technology which it would have been difficult to achieve otherwise.'

Verbatim text available at:
Kian / R - can you disable comments on this thread, if the OP intends to post subsequent chapters on this thread, to make for better reading experience.
This story is eerie.

We are 15 years away from the overruling of Keshavanand Bharathi.

Bhakts who argue that there was no "secular" word in the original preamble today, will, in 2035 engage in all sorts of mental gymnastics to give the then PM Shri Yogi Adityanath-ji (in his third term) the power of a king. We will not be able to counter argue because by then, the accounts of anyone holding a contrary viewpoint would have been disabled on social media.
Ah yes, the left equivalent of 'muslims will take over the country' which is used to spread mass hysteria and think of india as a dystopia where everything went the other way. You should write for thewire and ndtv, can recruit more people that way.