Constitution Day: Conscience Prevails On A Week of Murky Politics Over Maharashtra Government Formation
The Supreme Court had upheld the principles of the Constitution by directing Devendra Fadnavis to prove his majority, experts felt
Following an early morning swearing-in, on November 23, of Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister of Maharashtra, despite the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combine claiming a majority, accusations and muck were flying thick and fast. Most observers, even those optimistic about ‘clean image’ of the current dispensation, felt the Constitution had been subverted earlier by the government invoking the emergency powers of Constitution. “Constitution under threat”, “Democracy in danger” and “Murder of democracy” flew about in Parliament and on social media. The Opposition parties had even announced the boycott of the Parliament on ‘Constitution Day’—November 26.
Constitution Day, also known as Samvidhān Divas, is celebrated every year to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India, 70 years ago.
The Government of India declared 26 November as Constitution Day on 19 November 2015 by a gazette notification. The notification stated that the day would be celebrated to “promote constitutional values among citizens.” The year 2015 was Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary and in order to celebrate the anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution in a “big way”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared this day as ‘Constitution Day’. Previously, 26 November was celebrated as Law Day.
This move was read by political observers as a marker of the race between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) to claim the legacy of Dr Ambedkar and reach out to the Dalit community.
The celebrations were kick-started on Tuesday by all the government offices and institutions reading the Preamble of the Constitution at 11 a.m. Jammu and Kashmir celebrated Constitution Day for the first time this year.
But even more significant is the way Constitution Day has become the focal point in debates surrounding the government formation in Maharashtra, which has seen a constant downward spiral of ethics.
With the Supreme Court directing a floor test be conducted on November 27, to validate claims of Devendra Fadnavis that his party enjoyed a majority, there was a collective sigh of relief among the Oppositon, with many claiming that it was the victory of the Constitution.
For instance, NCP chief Sharad Pawar hailed the Supreme Court's direction by associating it with Constitution Day and Dr Ambedkar by tweeting, “I am grateful to Hon’ble SC for upholding democratic values and constitutional principles. It’s heartening that the Maharashtra Verdict came on the #ConstitutionDay, a Tribute to Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar!”
Fadnavis resigned later in the evening conceding that he did not have the majority for a floor test.
By the end of the day, it became pretty clear that Constitution had prevailed on this day.
To read more about floor tests that have made the news in recent years, click here.