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An estimated 3-minute read

The ghost of the “good devil” still haunts our politics posing a serious challenge to the right to equality.

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We have heard and read about the Maharajas and Nawabs bestowing gifts in the form of jewellery, land, etc in those days of history when there were kingdoms, sultanates, and dynasties. We have seen in it several Bollywood movies too. Whenever the King came across a subject in his Kingdom who was in utter plight or a predicament, the majesty would react emotionally and bestow the subject in plight with some fortune from the royal treasure. This emotional reaction of the King was also produced when the archer’s weapons impressed him or somebody brought him good news, say ‘the birth of a child in the royal palace.’ This was a time when one person use to rule the entire demarcated territory, which form of government in Aristotle’s language is either called Monarchy or tyranny depending upon the good or bad nature of the ruler. The King in such a political setup exercised absolute power and was under no obligation of social welfare; there was no trace of Constitutionalism. In short, there use to be a trait of the King or the Monarch that can be described as the “good devil”. Though he was good to the individual subject in predicament or the one who brought good news to him, nevertheless he was still a tyrant looked from the perspective of constitutionalism.

But times have changed now, the Kings are dead and people have taken over. Monarchy has been replaced by Democracy and absolutism by accountability. Nevertheless, the ghost of the good devil still haunts our Politics. The best example can be found in the recent incident related to honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka Mr. B.S. Yeddiyurappa. It is a known fact to every one of us that Mr. BSY announced a fortune of land allotment to the cricketers who were part of the Team India that won that Cricket World Cup – 2011. What authority do our politicians, in power, possess to declare such rewards from state exchequer? According to a newspaper article (Deccan Herald, Friday, May 13, 2011, p.5.) Mr. BSY, through a newspaper, came to know about a girl Shilpakala of Tumkur in Karnataka, who secured the third rank in the Arts stream, but was not in a position to pursue higher studies because of poverty. He immediately called up the Deputy Collector of the district and asked him to tell the girl to study as much as she wants and that her educational expenses would be taken care of by the government. Now apparently this is a happy story of girl who will now be able to pursue her education until Mr. BSY will remain in power or perhaps till she completes her education. But looking at this from a broader perspective by taking in to consideration the right to equality of several other children like Shilpakala, who are not in a position to continue with their education due to the same reason of poverty, this story has some other meaning; this story is a challenge to the concept of right to equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The question that will be asked by the rest of the children, in the similar circumstances of life, would be ‘why Shilpakala is being given a special treatment?’

This is not just a single instance of its kind and Mr. BSY is not the only man being the good devil, we will find several such instances and many such Ministers across the nation. Such comportment on the part of power-holders infringes the right to equality openly but under the guise of generosity. In a democracy like ours the sole aim of exercise of political power should be “social welfare” and it should not be for any individual gain, irrespective of whether it is for a benign cause or malignant one. The better policies should be made and developmental activities carried out to ensure a better standard of living to all the people in the society. Only then can true meaning be given to the fundamental Constitutional guarantee of right to equality, which is the cornerstone of the democratic edifice raised by the Constitution of India.

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