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23 February 2014

How Indian Constitution and Democracy were Hijacked

We the People. No. Its We the Politicians

The Constitution of India was introduced on and became operational on 26 January 1950. Did those who framed the Constitution keep one face as members of the Constituent Assembly and apart from the Constituent Assembly, keep another face as members of the Provisional Parliament? This is a question, but it is hard to believe that this happened. But when the events are viewed in sequence then it seems that it certainly did happen. The Constituent Assembly was a chair of justice, sitting on which the members of the Constituent Assembly made a decision in accordance with justice. But such a matter of regret that when those very members began working as Members of the Provisional Parliament it can be said without hesitation that they committed a huge fraud and deception on the country. In fact, these same two faces can be seen between the making of our Constitution by the Constituent Assembly and the working of the Provisional Parliament through the Constituent Assembly.

There was a serious debate on the future of the country in the Constituent Assembly. During the debate, running of the country by a political party was not envisaged anywhere. The Freedom Movement had been victorious and the Independence of India had almost been decided upon. The Constituent Assembly had been formed in 1946, before India’s Independence. The members of the Constituent Assembly framed the Constitution in a just and dignified manner and showed no dereliction in envisioning India as an ideal democratic country. According to the Constitution this country will function with the support of elected representatives of the people. The elected representatives of the people would go to the Lok Sabha and there, going by the majority or a unanimous consensus, they will choose/form a Government and a representative of that Government will become the Prime Minister. Political parties were present in those days, but the words ‘political party’ are not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution because a Republic has been envisaged in the Constitution. The world’s oldest Republic is considered to be the Lichchavi Republic. A study of that Republic shows that in a Republic, in the House that runs the Government there is never one ruling party or an opposition party. All the people sit together and on the basis of merits or demerits they run the State. It was on the basis of this that the framers of the Constitution did not use the words ‘political party’ in the Constitution and the Constituent Assembly did not function on a party basis. It functioned as the Constituent Assembly of an ideal Republic.

Then what happened and how did the words ‘political party’ appear inside Parliament? It happened that when making the Constitution the members of the Constituent Assembly worked like judges and made a Constitution which was actually going to give India a democracy. When the Constitution got made and was passed by the Provisional Parliament in 1950, then the ears of the politicians pricked up and they saw politics and began thinking that they had made a big mistake. If the Constitution had not been passed on 26 January 1950, perhaps its pages would have changed, but the politicians sitting on the chair of justice did indeed behave like judges and never thought about those things which could have been thought about to keep politics in their grasp forever.

The Provisional Parliament accepted the Constitution in 1950, because till 1952 the Constituent Assembly was handling both the responsibilities. First it made the Constitution and then it accepted it and made minor laws. When the Election Commission was made ( the Election Commission was envisaged in the Constitution), then suddenly it struck the politicians that the parties too had to be brought into Parliament. If representatives of the people came to Parliament in accordance with the Constitution, then the existence of parties in the Parliament would end, and so with the support of the Election Commission, they set up the party system against democracy and made it a law. In fact, they believed that only parties could run the country and therefore, they passed the Representation of the People Act in 1951. The Representation of the People Act was also passed by the Provisional Parliament. In fact, it was under this that political parties found a way to participate in the elections and put up their candidates. On the basis of this, the Election Commission conducted the General Elections of 1952, in which the Congress got about 348 seats and the remaining 100 seats were divided amongst other parties big and small.

Now the question arises : whose mind was behind holding the fortunes of India in a closed fist and making democracy captive in the hands of political parties? At that time all the people were present who fought and even endured punishment during the Freedom Movement. Amongst these were some on whom Gandhiji had a lot of trust and faith. All these people were still living when People’s Representation became a law in 1951 — Representation of the People Act 1951. Only one person was not amongst us at that time Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – the leader of the Independence Movement. Which leader could have got it into his mind to surreptitiously get political parties into the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabhas and the politics of India through a back door, a hidden door? It could have been any of the leaders. Rajendra Prasadji was the President; Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister and Sardar Patel was in his Cabinet. Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, C. Rajagopalachari, Maulana Azad and Govind Ballabh Pant were still alive. All these people sat together and through the Election Commission got the political parties back door or hidden door entry into the Lok Sabha. If an attempt was made, who tried to go against the interests of the people of India and the interests of the Constitution will perhaps remain in the womb of history. Who was responsible for this — one, or all these leaders were responsible?

In fact, the result of this was very dangerous. The time of the first Lok Sabha passed and from the time of the second Lok Sabha the erosion of democracy began to take place. As a result corruption began gradually entering into the country’s politics and for the first time, during the second Lok Sabha, some big scandals came to the forefront. Today, if we search for the origin and roots of corruption, they can be traced to the back door or hidden door entry of the political party system. A point of interest: if any law is not connected with the Constitution, the Supreme Court cancels/rejects it and a voice is raised against it. But against this Act (Public Representative Act 1951), no voice was raised, though it does not match with the spirit of the Constitution on any account. This was so because if the political parties had wanted to enter Parliament, it could have been done by a Constitutional Amendment. But the leaders at that time feared that if they immediately brought in a Constitutional Amendment, the people of the country will doubt their honesty and that is why this matter continued till 1985. For the first time in 1985, the words ‘political party’ were used in a Constitutional Amendment when the Anti Defection Bill came to Parliament. How decisions were to be made in political parties, how someone could be expelled from a Parliamentary party, how he/she will be dismissed, how he/she will lose membership, etc. were linked to the Constitution for the first time in 1985.

Now the question arises: if corruption, price rise and unemployment are rooted in the party system, then should this party system not be reconsidered? The second question : if this party system is against the basic spirit of the basics of the Constitution, should the people of the country not think about it? The third question : should the Supreme Court not ask the Election Commission whether at the time this law was made, it was in accordance with the Constitution at that time, and therefore correct?

We talk of the rule of the Constitution in the country, every person affirms that there is rule of the Constitution and that laws are made according to the Constitution. But the truth is that this law has snatched away from the people the opportunity of participating in a democracy directly. In fact, today, the political parties don’t want to think that the common people can have any part or share in ruling! The second result of this line of thought was that all the democratic or constitutional institutions in the country gradually started to die or come to an end or Governments began trying to get them in the grip of their tentacles. The map of Parliament became one in which political parties began maneuvering it and virtually making it dance according to their interests. The common people began viewing the drama within Parliament with eyes of suspicion because they could not understand what was happening and this situation gradually created inside people a sense of belief or disbelief in democracy.

Questions related to our Constitution began being raised in the country whereas actually questions should have been raised about political parties and the politicians incorrect interpretation of the Constitution. The lives of people began getting more and more difficult with each passing year, corruption began to increase, crime and offences began to increase, unemployment began to increase, and the problems of farmers and labourers also began to increase. The truth is that instead of standing in favour of the poor, the entire economy began to be seen as standing against the poor. And the Government, which had been envisioned as a welfare state, without telling some truths, in a way changed the Constitution itself. The peak of the party system that was ‘enforced’ in 1950 and 1952 became visible in 1991. In 1992, then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh kept a framework before the country – that they wanted to bring a new stream of prosperity and development in the country and wanted to put an end to the Inspector Raj. In fact, the control of the Government had gradually increased and people had got fed up of the Inspector Raj. In this period, instead of the public welfare state outlined by the Constitution, the then Prime Minister and his Finance Minister envisioned a market based state and from 1992 till today the character of the Government has completely changed.

Nobody questioned how, without taking the people into confidence, and without bring a Constitutional Amendment, Government was changed from a public welfare state Government to a market-based and profit-based Government. In other words, the country’s Constitution had been changed without taking the opinion or views of the people of the country! In such a situation, the book of the Constitution gradually became just an object for gracing book shelves. Whatever had been written in the Constitution began to come to an end one by one and that is why people in the country today do not have much respect for the Constitution. There are forces too in the country, chief among which are the Naxalites, which say that this Constitution stands against the poor. In fact, the Constitution which should have stood only in favour of the poor in the country – after 1992 the people who went to Parliament left no stone unturned to ensure that the Constitution stood against the poor. Now the market based system says that if you want to walk on the road, give toll tax, whereas the Constitution says that the Government should provide basic facilities. The Constitution says that the people have civil rights, fundamental rights, and which work the Government has to do — a clear and specific explanation and interpretation has been given. For a public welfare state, there is a model/ideal description –welfare state — in our Constitution and its interpretation is also given, but Governments have decided that if you want to get treatment, go to expensive hospitals, and if you want to get education, go to expensive schools. The Government has not pushed ahead with matters related to education or with health. Increase in prices have been openly handed over to the markets, the bazaars. Unemployment is rising in leaps and bounds, agro-based industries are closing down, basic cultivation is not being able to recover its cost, farmers trapped in debt are continuously committing suicide. But because the Government has adopted the market-based path, it makes no difference to it now how many people in this country are dying due to malnutrition, how many are dying because of non-availability of treatment, and how many are dying caught in the web of debt. What is really surprising is that the Government is not bothered or concerned at all about why employment is not being created.

As a result, where in 1992 there were 40 districts and in 2004 there were 70 districts affected by Naxalism, today there are 272 District directly impacted by Naxalism. This Government working and walking in unconstitutional ways has brought the country to a pass where people have started to think that the Government pays no heed to peaceful ‘dharnas’, therefore it is useless to hold demonstrations. Yes, the thought of taking violent steps has certainly now rapidly come into people’s minds. In many States, as rail tracks are blocked by the people for 10 days at a stretch, 15 days at a stretch, the Government responds promptly to their demands. If in Orissa, the IAS District Magistrate is kidnapped by Naxalites, their demands are met within 72 hours by the Government. Overall, the result of the mistake made in 1952 has been that the the entire Lok Sabha is seen standing far away from the problems of the people. In fact, such laws are mostly being made which do not remove the problems or suffering of the people, but instead continuously help the ruling class and the corporate class which shakes hands with it. Not a single law is being made that will bring down inflation, that is against corruption and unemployment and can provide some faith to the people.

Now scams and scandals don’t take place in lakhs, not even in crores, because the Bofors scandal, which took away the Government from Rajiv Gandhi’s hands, was of 64 crores, but after that till now, 5000 crores, 10,000 crores, 15,000 crores and 20,000 crores, one lakh crore, one lakh 76,000 crores, and 26 lakh crore scams and scandals have come before us. In all these scandals, without any bias or distinction, people from both the ruling party and the Opposition seem to be involved. Not only this, a scam in MGREGS, a scam in the loan waiver scheme for farmers, a scam in the package sent to Vidarbha for farmers suicides, food and drug scam, in other words everywhere there seems to be a flood of scams.

If there had been representatives of the people in the Lok Sabha in accordance with the Constitution, and representative of the parties had not been there, all the above scams would not have happened. Because, if a person had been involved in a scam, the people from his constituency, his friends, his colleagues in Parliament would have put moral pressure on him and the corruption would have stopped there. But since the parties are now ruling, an MP is saved by saying ‘the High Command has handled this’. Actually, it is also a truth and a fact that the money in such big scams also goes to the top, whether the Government is of this party or of that party. The question is being raised prominently in this country whether people should stand up against the deception or cheating done with the Constitution, or whether the situation should be accepted in its current form? The second question is whether this country’s Supreme Court will take the initiative on such a big question and set up a constitutional bench or not? It seems to me that the Supreme Court will not set up a constitutional bench because the interest of many of the people in the Supreme Court can be seen connected with those of the ruling parties. Perhaps this is why within two days of retiring from the Supreme Court, a judge gets some posting or the other. The people of India place a lot of faith on the Supreme Court, that is why, if this question gets louder and picks up momentum, it should be hoped that the Supreme Court will set up a constitutional bench and will decide too how between 1947 and 1951 such a big game was played with the destiny of the people of the country and with the Constitution of the country? And alongside at the same time it will also decide how right all the things that are going on today are in accordance with the Constitution.

If the word ‘party’ has been added in 1985, were all the things which happened before that incorrect, or is the Constitutional Amendment made in 1985 contrary in a way to the spirit of the Constitution? These questions are as much political as they are legal and constitutional. There are two paths before the people of India. The first : let what is going on be allowed to continue and price rise, corruption and unemployment be allowed to increase the way they are. The second : the people of India stand up against the party system, put up people from their own midst in the elections and vote for them. If the public, instead of voting for parties will vote for candidates from amongst the common people, a different picture will come before the country and that picture will at least be a much better picture than can be seen today because in it, the colours of corruption, price rise and employment will be very dim.

Article by Santosh Bhartiya as published in Chauthi Duniya
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