Sharad Yadav is against women reservation bill and declared that he would consume poison if the bill was passed in its present form. Later, in order to wriggle out of the suicide statement, which could in part be politically suicidal, he referred to Socrates’ cup of hemlock in his defence and apparently likened himself to the great Greek philosopher.
Socrates agreed to consume poison simply because he believed that irrespective of his own beliefs and regardless of his disagreement with his accusers he was morally and legally obliged to drink poison in obedience of the law because having stayed in the territory despite having the option of leaving anytime he wished, he had implicitly agreed to obey the law of the land and also bear the consequences if he was ever found in violation of the law. So, when he was found guilty and sentenced to death, he had no option but to die as stipulated not only in accordance with the law but also in conformity with his own intellectual beliefs and convictions. This is what makes Socrates one of the very, very few strictly ‘intellectual’ martyrs.
Amusingly, Sharad Yadav says that if the Bill was passed in the present form he would consume poison, which means if it became law through constitutional means he would oppose it illegally by committing suicide. Socrates consumed poison in obedience to the law whereas Mr. Yadav threatens to do the same in violation of it.
One can resist the enactment of a law through legitimate means like peaceful demonstrations, dialogue and Parliamentary debate is permissible, but to employ means like damaging public property, disrupting normal everyday life and threatening to commit suicide are certainly impermissible and illegal. Once means to persuade and convince fail and the legislature enacts a law, the law so enacted has to be accepted as the will of the people. Socrates died for the principle that one might disagree with the law but must obey.
So, Sharad Yadav can disagree with and resist the Bill while it is in the process of being passed and may continue opposing it with all the means at his disposal after it becomes the law, but not in the name of Socrates because the great Greek would not have the law defied or the consequences of its violation evaded.
To be Socrates, Mr. Yadav, you need to consume poison in obedience and not in defiance of the law. So, correct your course or find a better ally among the dead Greeks.
Originally published on my WordPress Blog on June 9, 2009