The current UPA political leadership has completely distorted Indian democracy and misinterpreted Indian Constitution, the consequences of which are dire for the future of this nation. There is an urgent need to correct the wrong perceptions that have been floated in the last two years – there are many of them. One such instance is where the political parties are being recognized as legal democratic representatives of the people. For the last two years, UPA political leadership has cited lack of unanimity or consensus within recognized political parties in Andhra Pradesh to stall any decision making on Telangana.
Repeated references to apparent division of opinion within political parties, that there should be consensus within each political party, that not all political parties are in agreement, comes from our wrong understanding of role of a political party in Indian democracy. Because of this wrong understanding, we tend to address the issue by looking for wrong solutions which are not even required in the first place. Trying to get unanimity amongst all political parties is a foolish endeavor to start with, and it can be achieved only in dictatorships or on those issues which are considered universally applicable, but is never possible on contentious issues where people are starkly divided. If we seek unanimity on all contentious issues, no bill will ever be passed in the Parliament, and no decision will ever be taken.
Such wrong understanding of Indian Constitution and Indian democracy has to be combated expediently. Many Telanganas are falling prey to this argument right now. Instead of rejecting the questions posed to us, and instead of exposing the utter chicanery in the underlying assumptions, Telanganas are trying to defend themselves by answering the questions.
Framers of Indian Constitution did not recognize political party as a legal representative of India’s people. In fact, political parties do not find any direct mention in the Constitution of India. It was always considered a loosely defined logical entity. The elected leader alone, whatever may be his/her political affiliation, is the legal representative of the people of the land. Those elected leaders could be hailing from a political party or none at all. That means, as an extreme position, one can imagine a Parliament where all candidates are independents, without any affiliation to any political party. Such a scenario would still be considered perfectly legitimate by Indian Constitution since the entire population is now represented through the elected leaders (not political parties).
A political party is nothing but a group of elected representatives coming together under a common banner, a logical entity, loosely defined as an organization, but that banner doesn’t form a legal constituent in the eyes of Indian Constitution*. Indian Constitution (before Anti-defection law) did not put any condition on an elected leader's affiliation with a political party and had no limit on the number of political affiliations an elected leader could have.
People of India choose a candidate, not the political party. Some people wrongly argue that in India people do not vote for the candidate but for the party and therefore we should consider political parties in our arguments. That does not make sense. What if we got to know that people choose caste instead of candidate; should we then consider castes in our arguments. Should our honorable Home Minister then call different castes for discussions on fate of Telangana?
The legislative houses, the State Assembly and the Indian Parliament, are a collection of elected representatives, each representing his electoral district. These houses are not collection of political parties, either recognized or unrecognized. They are not collection of castes or religions, whether people vote for castes or religions. And the Election Commission is a body which recognizes and regulates registered political parties but there is no mandate to register a political party with Election Commission (unless you want to accept contributions and donations).
An Assembly or Parliament can run without any representation from a political party, but it cannot and should not run without legal representative from all electoral districts of India. That mean the legislative houses should have elected representatives from all people of India without missing anyone. The same cannot be said about political parties. There are nearly 1000 political parties in India, and not all of them send candidates to legislative houses. Indian Constitution does not impose a restriction on the number of political parties in the country nor does it provide a guidance to its composition. Political parties can have their own constitution and are not forced (through mandates of Indian Constitution) to practice democracy, or be constrained in identity politics. That means a political party can be dynastic or take up any group identity (like religion or caste). However, the elected leaders are forced to practice democracy in the Indian Parliament while the secular laws prohibit religious or caste preferences in exercise of their duties.
When taking decisions in a legislative house, the vote of candidates is paramount and not the vote of political parties. If for example, 280 candidates vote in favor and 220 vote against, then majority wins (if the required issue requires simple majority) irrespective of how each party has voted. At the end of the voting, we don’t count the number of political parties which have voted. We count the number of elected leaders who have voted.
In fact, if the elected candidates do not vote unanimously on certain issues, then it can be considered as a healthy sign of democracy – because that may mean the elected representative was listening to his people rather than his political boss. If the voting is strictly along political party lines we may suspect that the elected representatives are voting according to their party diktats rather than listening to their constituencies (unless of course the issue in question was promised as a party stand at the time of elections).
When two regions are strictly polarized irrespective of their party affiliations, there is a strong and unequivocal message, if one wants to hear it. When the elected representatives of a region irrespective of their party affiliations voice the same opinion, it means it is a universal cause embraced by the people in that region. That, my dear friends, is a good sign of working democracy. And right now, instead of recognizing this beautiful expression of people of the region, the UPA political leadership is bent on distorting the fundamentals of Indian democracy by misinterpreting the basic tenets of Indian Constitution.
There is no merit in seeking unanimity amongst political parties when the issue is regional. It is common sense that if the disagreement is between regions, the opinions of the leaders of the regions is to be sought. For universal issues, such as minimum age for voting, or taxation, a show of majority will work. In the case of Telangana, seeking assent from various political parties, asking the elected leaders whether they got permission from their political bosses, asking all political parties to come to an agreement, are all mischievous methods intended to subvert Indian democracy and suppress a genuine people’s movement.
Many people in Telangana, instead of fighting these malicious misinterpretations from UPA leadership are in fact legitimizing this foolishness when they try to answer the questions posed to them, like showcasing the unanimity or consensus amongst political parties, or referring to political manifestos of various political parties within the state. Telanganas should rubbish such questions posed to them at the outset, and reject them completely citing the basic flaw in the argument. If a show of strength is needed, it is found in the number of elected representatives from Telangana who stand for cause of Telangana. That is best democratic expression possible in the current context. Telanganas should give a reply that any discussion on achieving consensus or agreement within political parties is not required by Indian democracy and is not even prescribed by Indian Constitution and therefore will not be entertained. They should send the message: ‘Don’t fool us with this political party bull shit. We are not going to count the political parties or unanimity amongst them. We will only count the elected leaders from Telangana.’
[*As a corollary, anti-defection law incorporated in 1985 is undemocratic and even unconstitutional (because it diverges from other basic tenets of the Constitution).]
Note: This article is in draft state and will be updated without notice.
Note: This article is in draft state and will be updated without notice.