Divisive Politics Hurts Consitution: Gopalkrishna Gandhi

The former governor of West Bengal tells KULSUM MUSTAFA that India’s Preamble is lyrical, but it must be sung in unison

Gopalkrishna Gandhi was the Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to 2009. He is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Photo by Pintu Pradhan/Tehelka

Born just a couple of years before India attained freedom, Gopalkrishna Gandhi is a retired IAS officer, a former governor of West Bengal. Combine to this his biological lineage- paternal grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and maternal grandfather C Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) and what emerges is a statesman of great acumen.

Thus, when he speaks of distractions and divisive politics that is plaguing India one just listens with apt attention and one can actually feel with him. After all it was his direct decedents who helped bring freedom to our nation.

“There lurks a great danger to the very soul of our Constitution for its very basic foundation is being shaken by divisive politics,” said Gandhi adding that while amendments are always needed in any document it should be done with care and caution so that the spirit of unity is not tampered with, which is the very core of the Constitution.

Referring to the Preamble of our Constitution as a “lyrical” document, Gandhi said that the very phrase of “We the people’ sends across such positive vibes and must be respected and imbibed. Gandhi was speaking at veteran journalist Osama Talha memorial lecture on Hum Hind ki awam (we the people of India) in Lucknow as chief guest.

Applauding the tremendous work and thought process that went into drafting the Constitution of India, Gandhi said that it was the aim of the drafting committee to create a document which captured the very essence of freedom — equality laced fearlessness and a confidence that citizens will abide by it, regardless of caste, creed, religion or political affiliations.

Stressing that the Indian Constitution is one of the finest example of a document with a vision and mission Gandhi said that while the entire document was planned in English, it was simultaneously prepared by two equally important committees in English and Hindi as the aim was to give it in the hands of the ‘We the People’ in the language that they spoke and were emotionally bound with.

Gandhi said that while the Constitution aimed at evoking a feeling of patriotism, oneness and helping to bring forward the thinking masses, just the opposite is happening now, when the main aim of political parties is to stifle the thinking and reasoning acumen of the commonman and to divide him on the lines of caste, creed and religion. That he stressed is a total violation of the spirit of the Constitution of India.

“Politics of yesteryears gave us a open mind, it taught us to think, be alert but today’s politics is one of diversions and distractions and sure is very dangerous,” said Gandhi.

Stressing that terrorism, fanaticism and polarisations are the biggest threats facing the Constitution, the former diplomat said that while fear predominates we the people of India must not lose faith and confidence for it is we the people of India who gave themselves this Constitution and it is they who will protect it and ensure that its spirit lives on.

Banking heavily on the Fourth Pillar for making this possible, Gandhi lauded the efforts of the Foundation to honor journalists who are promoting fearless journalism. He congratulated this year’s awardees Vinod Doa and Harish Khare and said they are two solid pillars of journalism and they help send the right message to Society through free expression.