Of late, the press conferences held by Telangana Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) are replete with laudatory references to China. He usually brings up China to show India in a bad light while comparing the growth trajectories of the two nations. He points out that India and its leaders, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have much to learn from China. He had even characterised the Indian Constitution, drafted under the leadership of Dr BR Ambedkar, as ‘outdated’ and demanded replacement of the basic statute to bring fundamental changes in the country’s governance structure.
The Telangana Chief Minister is obviously impressed by the Chinese model of governance and the growth that China has achieved in the past few decades. Consequently, this begs the question: “what did our CM find so impressive about China’s governance and policies?’
Firstly, China is a one-party state. While India is a parliamentary democracy with multiple political parties, China has only one political party. Unlike India, where numerous political parties compete for power via elections, China has only one party – the Communist Party of China (CPC) – that rules the country forever without any need for endorsement from its citizens.
Secondly, in the Chinese model, the party is the state, and the state is the party. As a result, the party’s ‘Organisation Department’ appoints the top officials of every organised sector of Chinese society — government, bureaucracy, army, judiciary, banks, regulatory agencies, the sole trade union, universities, media, think tanks to even heads of religious organisations. The General Secretary of the CPC is the topmost Chinese leadership position. Usually, the General Secretary also holds the Chairmanship of the Central Military Commission and is the State President, exercising complete control over the state. It will shock Indians to know that the first allegiance of the Chinese army is to the Communist Party, and party officials occupy military positions.
Thirdly, unlike Indian citizens, the Chinese do not enjoy any fundamental rights. Freedoms of expression, movement, profession and religion that Indians take for granted are nonexistent for the Chinese. The government censors the press, social media, and the internet. The ‘hukou’ or resident registration system in China restricts movement. It works like an ‘internal passport’. The Chinese are not free to move and work anywhere in the country, unlike Indians. There is no right to ‘property’ for the farmers in China; farmers only have rights of use when it comes to farms. The Chinese farmers do not and cannot own their land.
Fourthly, the Chinese have no right to dissent. They may plead, but have no right to dissent. There are no places like the Dharna Chowk in Telangana or Jantar Mantar in Delhi in China.
One wonders which of these four essential Chinese features the TS Chief Minister is impressed by or if he is impressed by all four. Since the erstwhile Telangana Rashtra Samiti came to power in 2014, KCR has tried every means to eliminate representation from every other party in the state’s legislative bodies, except BRS’ friendly party MIM.
Watching the conduct of some top-level bureaucrats in Telangana, it is evident that that TS CM likes the Chinese governance feature wherein there is no distinction between a government officer and a party worker. Notably, there are widespread allegations of many bureaucrats behaving like ruling party workers. The case of the IAS officer who was made an MLC soon after he publicly touched the CM’s feet is a case in point.
Not only bureaucrats but also some trade union leaders who are supposed to fight in the interests of employees behave more like BRS workers and campaign in elections on behalf of the ruling party. It does not bother them that most employees in Telangana do not receive their salaries on the first of the month. The BRS supremo’s desire to control every sphere of organised activity is apparent.
The Chief Minister’s shutting down the Dharna Chowk near Indira Park — a place for staging protests — clearly shows that he does not believe citizens have a right to dissent. But for the judiciary, the people of Telangana, who had achieved a separate state for themselves through agitations, would have no way of conducting a ‘dharna’ or any organised protest in BRS rule. Every opposition party has to run to the courts to get permission for ‘yatras’ or to conduct public meetings, as the government’s first instinct is to deny their applications.
No wonder, the owner of a ‘family party’, currently in power and willing to do anything to retain it, finds a liking for the essential features of the Chinese model. However, the North Korean model may be even more desirable for family party owners. In addition to the above features, power flows from father to son in North Korea, unlike in China. Luckily we have our Constitution and our public as a bulwark against such fans of autocracy.
(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)