It is commonplace to see political parties stage bandhs totally paralysing normal life or try to pressurise theatre-owners into not screening movies due to personal and ego problems. Such unconstitutional acts are usually perpetrated by parties that cannot win elections but have enough clout to disrupt normal life for the law-abiding majority.
Politicians have their own agendas that sometimes subvert the national interest or affect the well-being of the very people that these party leaders claim they are serving. The irony is such that at times the leaders of the ruling parties have to call upon these goons and request them to stop it.
With fines and arrests not at all deterring these goons, it is time to think of alternatives.
To start with, parties that behave in unconstitutional ways should be banned from participating in elections at all levels – national , state or local; for a period of time whose length should be determined by the nature of the offence and by past behaviour. If it is a first offence, the ban could be for less than a year. However, if the party is repeatedly indulging in serious offences, the ban could extend to 10 years (or more) to ensure that the leaders of these outfits realise that there is a price to be paid for being incorrigible.
The law banning political parties should be drafted in a way to ensure that irresponsible leaders cannot contest elections merely by changing the name of the outfit. One way of doing this is by banning not just the party that behaves unconstitutionally but also all those who have been elected from that party at the national, state or local level. For obvious reasons, the ban on participation in elections should be decided not by a rival political party but by an impartial constitutional body like the Election Commission whose business is to conduct polls at the national, state and local levels
A ban on an outfit from contesting elections could have a salutary effect across the board and could guarantee that a few thousand or even a hundred party workers will think twice before disrupting the normal life of the people these outfits claim to serve.
Such a ban could even deter the leaders of these outfits from trying to fan their propaganda through the media. Once a leader is quoted on a TV news channel as saying that he will prevent the screening of a movie, the footage could be used as evidence to ban the party from participating in the electoral process that it obviously doesn’t believe in, going by its actions.
With the country’s highly inadequate ratio of policemen for every lakh of people, the posting of thousands of cops just to ensure that a movie can be screened comes at a cost that is not just financially wrong but is a threat to security.
What is happening right now only reflects how irresponsible the leaders of political parties can behave if they think they can get away with it. No politician, on his whim, has the right to stop people from going to work, from going to a movie of their choice or from anything that disrupts their life. After all, the country belongs to the people!