It’s Republic Day today. It is also the end of a week when violent protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmaavat plumbed new depths. There is grim irony to this.

Today is an occasion for celebrating the Indian republic’s constitutional order. Rightly so: the Constituent Assembly did an admirable job, especially given the political context. The rioters and the governments that have enabled them or turned a blind eye show an appalling lack of respect for that order.

They are far from the first. Every political party in India has indulged in the politics of the mob over the decades. The justifications they have offered are pernicious. There is no constitutional provision condoning violence to assuage hurt pride or sentiment.

Geostrategic rivals such as China and Pakistan, or internal threats like the Maoists or separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, are security threats, not existential ones. The greatest existential threat to India’s constitutional order is internal: the cynical disregard for it exhibited by political parties.

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