Honourable course for PM

Anna Hazare’s movement continues to swell. That causes jubilation. It should also introduce caution. Such large movements are inevitably porous. It would be the easiest thing for elements hostile to the movement to infiltrate its ranks and foment violence. Hazare has asked followers to stage peaceful protests outside the houses of all ministers and MPs. What if infiltrators cause serious violence to derail the movement? That could cause a huge problem for both the leaders of Team Hazare and for the government. 

The government is caught in a bind. It is clearly unhappy with several provisions of the Jan Lokpal as well as the demands for its implementation being made by the movement’s leaders. That is why the government is blowing hot and cold. Days earlier it was invoking procedure to rubbish the demands for the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill before September. It was reasonable in doing so. Now suddenly Abhishekh Singhvi, Congress spokesperson and Chairman of Parliament’s Standing Committee before which the Bill must be presented, is cooing a different tune. He asks for giving the Standing Committee a chance which might “surprise people” by its response. 

Despite its reservations the government is being forced to bend. There is nothing wrong with that. But if in the process it plays fast and loose with democratic procedure and even with Constitutional safeguards it would be tragic. It would be equally unfortunate if against its will it is compelled to go against what it believes to be right. Pranab Mukherjee expressed the true feelings of the government. He said that the movement could not dictate to Parliament and usurp the role of legislators. That is what it seems to be doing, but Mukherjee can only sulk. So what should the Prime Minister do?

Compromising with democratic norms would be unacceptable. Crushing the movement with force would be self defeating. Arriving at an honourable settlement with Team Hazare that does not compromise with established democratic norms appears unachievable. In this situation the only honourable course for the PM would be to act by the accepted norms of the democratic system and make his move. 

The PM could state that though his government disagrees with several provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill and even with the methods adopted by its protagonists, he acknowledges that there is wide support for the demand. He could state in all honesty that the legitimacy of his government is under a cloud. He should therefore take the well established step that democratic systems dictate in these circumstances.

He should dissolve Parliament and order a mid-term election in order to seek a fresh mandate. Let the people of India get the opportunity to render their decision. Let all antagonists in the dispute get a reality check of what the people of India really want. That would strengthen the system. It would reinforce democracy.

It would indicate to the nation in which direction it should travel. The results might surprise both Congress and Team Hazare.  


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

Top | Analysis

Views: 3372      Comments: 7

Comment And by criticizing UPA misrule and violation of democratic norms at first place, I do not discount BJP and NDA either.

Even amidst media bias, they could have performed their duty honestly in national interest - that would at least kept hope in hearts of the minor part of Indians having eyes opened.

If Congress is corrupt from root and is in irreversible situation, BJP is at least half corrupt (reference India cables).

Overall, UPA to be blamed for this mess, had they not come to power, I believe the situation would not have worsened so much and such 'un-democratic movements might not have taken place.

And in this messy situation, we have hope that if Jan Lokpal comes, it will put the half corrupt BJP leaders and almost all Congress leaders out of political career.

Then, all those democratic norms can be followed to improve the system's effectiveness.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
26-Aug-2011 14:17 PM

Our Prime Minister and his gang of four are very honest to one individual. But they are enemy's of Indian Constitution and its people. They are traitors. As you rightly said we need a strong constitution and a powerful President in the event of powerless Prime Minister. The present situation is worst than during emergency of 1975. How can a party president be so powerful, holding the Nation hostage? This kind of situation never arose in the history of our Nation. A powerful party President and a powerless Prime Minister. I call upon the dear Prime Minister to resign and call for an early election. The election manifesto must include amendment to the Constitution to make the President more powerful After the the election present President must resign. The future Preident must be acceptable to 2/3 majority. If this is done there is some hope for the Nation and its people.

Shyam Shetty
25-Aug-2011 10:11 AM

Comment Dear Sir,

I have caught the last line from your response: "Ramming through decisions by violating democratic procedure will create a far, far bigger problem than even corruption."

In last 4-5 days, I happen to travel to central India, through various trains due to personal urgency, I travelled in general bogie too. The talks of Lokpal movement and Anna is much more prevalent in lower economic class (than upper middle class). In trains, public places in small towns and vilages, everywhere there are talks about Anna and Lokpal. I could conclude that in small towns and villages, across India, there is overwhelming support to Anna's movement this time. Probably govt did not understand this initially after 15th Aug.

At the same time, large portion of supporting lower class mass does not understand the solution of Jan Lokpal to eradicate corruption, neither they understand who is up to what (I asked specific questions to people supporting the movement). They are simply tired of rampant corruption and poverty and want to get the system corrected and hence get their life better.
(At the same time, large sections in upper middle class do not understand the solution completely either).
So, the large part of Indian voter class does not understand what is best. (and so is in other democracies, such as USA).

It is likely that Congress comes back to power in the scenario suggested in this article. Even if Anna Hazare forms a party and contest loksabha mid term election, he may not win more than 20 seats !!

But that doesn't mean Indians don't want corruption to be eradicated or Jan Lokpal to come in for that matter.

From the above logic, I derive that large part of Indian mass wants corruption to be eradicated immediately and that they see Lokpal as a solution. But at the same time, mid term Loksabha elections results are not likely to reflect this - due to various chemistry laws of democratic elections.

Coming to the point mentioned in your response, yes, ramming through decisions by violating democratic procedure may create a bigger problem.

By demanding certain draft to be passed by parliament or else someone will fast unto death is blackmailing and undemocratic, tomorrow the same tactic may be used by anti-national activists, or activists whose agenda is only personal gain at the expense of nation interests - there may be a great danger.

However, the democratic limits were crossed by Congress long back,
Soon after coming to power in 2004, UPA 1 did many acts against opposition that were highly undemocratic, they treated opposition as enemies that must be destroyed. (one can recall various news items, even BJP leaders mentioned this change in Indian politics). The ruling alliance stopped practicing healthy democracy aided by shameless media.

Sir, the killing of democratic norms started earlier and by Anna but by UPA. We had already crossed boundaries before Anna came in. Had those boundaries been maintained, the nation would not be in the condition it is today.

So why point finger to Anna at first place ?

I therefore believe that, this movement will only bring positive change to India. There is hardly to loose anything but much more to gain if it succeeds. (I believe the deep cultural and civilization roots of India will prevent subsequent misuse of the blackmailing tactics of anshan.)

If it fails or PM dissolves parliament as you suggested and if Lokpal does not come into picture thereafter (which is likely), we will continue downward drift as nation. And as we know through various pointers, we do not have much time to fix things or else Indians as such are endangered species.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
25-Aug-2011 09:28 AM

Comment Surprised you can associate "honour"with the PM, party or govt.!

24-Aug-2011 22:58 PM

Comment Dear Mr Bohre, the election would be fought on the issue of the Jan Lokpal. The nation is concerned about corruption. But does the nation think that Jan Lokpal is the best solution or could that be something else? Mr Arvind Kejriwal demanded a referendum for which there is no constitutional provision. An election that would allow him and his supporters to campaign for Jan Lokpal would be equally good from his point of view. In case they lose the election Mr Anna Hazare and his supporters need not discard their demand. They would have to find a solution acceptable to the nation. That is what democracy is all about. Ramming through decisions by violating democratic procedure will create a far, far bigger problem than even corruption.

rajinder puri
24-Aug-2011 21:49 PM

Comment Dear Mr. Puri & Iview,

Consider a scenario:
The PM dissolves the parliament and mid term Loksabha elections are ordered.
Then, somewhere in November/December the elections take place.

And The UPA comes back to power - UPA-3.

What will happen ? Should Anna Hazare, it's team and crores of people discard the demand for Jan Lokpal in such a context ?

Secondly, the current context for asking Jan Lokpal is not based on performance of UPA-2 govt in last 2+ years, the feeling represent situation that has built up in decades and coumponded by UPA-1 misrule.

But given the fact that UPA was re-elected, one can take it as democratic decision of the nation. Doesn't the 2009 Loksabha election results also represent acceptance of corruption by the nation. Hence shall one derive that the current movement in favour of Jan Lokpal bill in uncalled for ? because how can a nation challange a govt elected democratically 2 yrs back, when the challange is not based on last 2 years of performance of the govt ?

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
24-Aug-2011 11:32 AM

Comment Very Good...Well will definitely be a surprise to Congress as well as Hazare Team!

22-Aug-2011 12:14 PM

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