Defections of law makers the scourge of Indian Polity and Governance

VK Bahuguna

(The writer is a former civil servant)
Politics is the art of governance in which the ruling regimes takes steps to improve the living conditions of the people in a country but itprimarily concerns with the accumulation of positions in an organization for controlling the governance. In a democracy the ruling and opposition debate and jostle for power to assume control and guide the governance. Indian politics of late is totally cantered around enjoyment of fruits of powers by the politicians and their cronies by hook or crook. The Indian Politicians in State after State are in the quirky situation and have become a laughing stock in the eyes of general public. They have thrown the decency and constitutional values to dustbin and solely concerned with their selfish interests and the rule book of our constitution is the worst victim of ongoing political chicanery. It was first witnessed in Bommai case when the Supreme Court set some standard parameters of dismissal of State Governments. The Uttarakhand fiasco, than Karnataka drama and now Madhya Pradesh power game between BJP and the Congress is exposing the erring knots of our democratic polity. The Supreme Court, High Courts and sometimes State Governors are gleefully enjoying the theatre of squabbles among Indian political parties for past several years and it appears that after some time if such things become a routine matter the Supreme Court will have to spend a sizeable time in settling such mundane matters which are strictly in the domain of legislature and constitutional authorities and get distracted from their fundamental duty of dispensing with Justice. 

The question is why it is happening when the written constitution says it all clearly and unequivocally. The culprit is the Character and lust of our political powers and the attitude to stick to power and blatantly partisan attitude of our constitutional authorities specially the Speakers of the State assemblies who never shed their political affiliation once being elected to the Chair and in the process undermine the constitutional provisions resulting in shifting the scene in the courts. The ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ culture before the enactment of anti-defection law in January 1985 under the fifty second Constitutional Amendment, today seems to be conforming more to the Constitutional values of majority forming the government than the theatrics of today’s politics when by hook and crook political parties and the law makers want to subvert the spirit of constitution. The anti-defection law is making the Assembly Speakers monsters that are running amok with their vested political agenda and their arbitrary decisions is making them unconstitutional parallel power centre. The entire scenario in different State Assemblies thus is making mockery of the democracy and the Governors are helpless spectators when their decisions are being blown away with disdain. 

It is quite clear that the Kamalnath Government in Madhya Pradesh is reduced in helpless minority after the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs from assembly including six Ministers. All over people know that horse trading has become a routine affair among politicians due to rapid downward slide in ethics. The hallmark of democracy is such that a party or a leader who command support of majority of legislatures shall form the government and once the leader losses the majority support the best and dignified manner of conduct is to tender his or her resignation and allow the democratic process to take over. This kind of conduct is not seen now among our politicians and gradually the democracy is turning into Mobocracy. There are increasing examples of promoting anarchy by our opposition leaders and the recent example is inciting people to come to streets against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). The CAA was duly passed by the Parliament and the NRC was ordered by the Supreme Court. The public mind is being poisoned by the selfish politician to serve the vested vote bank politics. It is quite clear that Indian people and their leaders are failing the democratic process and it is high time that the necessary public opinion is made to stem the rot before it is too late.

The democracy can only succeed if the executive, legislature and judiciary work harmoniously, independently and with deep commitment to ethics and larger public interests of bringing happiness to the people. The government of the day should initiate debate and discussion on how to conduct value based politics in the country as the masses of the country are fed up with selfish and power hungry divisive politics on caste and religion. The recent riots in Delhi have exposed chinks in our law and order enforcement rendering the police helpless which resulted in killings of our law abiding citizens and critically injuring a senior IPS officer. Like the defect in one limb ruins the life of men/women similarly the defect in our three wings of constitutionis ruining the governance in India notwithstanding the fact that democracy as such has taken deep roots in the country. The aberrations only need to be dealt with a firm hand and decisively. The incidents also prove democracy is still evolving but the direction need not be anarchist.

The Country needs to review the functioning of our constitutional objectives and first thing that comes to mind is to amend the constitution and increase the scope of defining the corruption (beyond monetary aspect) by politicians occupying constitutional positions and bureaucracy. The misuse of government funds like freebies during elections and after, and deliberate intentionally wrong decisions by officials should be strictly prohibited and includedas an offence. Secondly, no one should be allowed to make his or her own interpretations on constitutional provisions and rules. The bureaucrats are past masters in this and control and misguide the politicians in power. The anti-defection law should be scrapped in its present form or should be amended and made straight. The cardinal principle of majority support should be the only criteria to determine support and the Governor should only have the powers to compulsorily order floor test in the assembly within a specific time otherwise they are only a burden on exchequer as ceremonial experts with a large retinue of staff. Third, the divisive politics by regional satraps is a threat to the political stability and regional parties must lose their recognition for violating certain identified norms of governance. Fourth,check arbitrariness in doling out post retirement jobs to Bureaucracy and enlarge the kitty of choosing experts beyond a coterie as there are several qualified people available in all fields. The Modi government too is faltering in this and following the previous regime’s policies of nepotism and crony capitalism and had faced embarrassment from their appointees quite often. Today only networking around powers that be and hitting a connection in Delhi coterie is the criteria. The fact remains that unless our national character improves no reforms will help. However, eternal hope is the cause of sustaining Indian civilization as we have the wherewithal to overcome such hiccups in nation building. 

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