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Nadir Of Democracy : When Legislators Come With Price Tag Attached

File Picture : Twitter / ANI

In India right from the beginning, there has been no real and effective democracy. The first prime minister of India was nominated by the Father of the Nation. Even though there were more competent people and who could have been nominated and people who would have won if there was an election. In view of the fact that the Father nation nominated, this gentleman became the prime minister. This continued to the next generation when after a short stint of Lal Bahadur Shastri who too was nominated by the old congress “syndicate”. Gulzari Lal Nanda was our Prime Minister, twice for a period of precisely 13 days each, after the death of Nehru and Shastri, these were short stints as a stop-gap arrangement. Further Rajiv Gandhi and later Prime Minsters happen to be nominated. The only other person effective to be a Prime Minister was P V Narasimha Rao, but this was clearly a government that was a government that was actually “purchased”.The only time there was election for electing the leader of Parliament was when Congress leaders couldn’t persuade Morarji Desai from contest against Mrs Indira Gandhi. On all other occasions it has been nomination or based on power of purchase. I find a correlation between what is happening in our politics as in our business enterprises. In party politics or business, only a family member is nominated a successor, and very rarely does it happen that it is third party and a professional, and in such circumstances, he is unable to control the party or the company.

There is really no inner party democracy in political parties. And the method of electing the prime minister itself is flawed. Projecting someone as a Prime Minister by itself is not a healthy democracy. In terms of our constitution the Prime Minister must be elected by the Members of the House. The choice of the Prime Minister is the prerogative the elected Members. Now in our country, the person is projected even before the legislators are elected and this can be in a Presidential form but not in the model of democracy, we had conceived for ourselves. This is tantamount to projecting a personality and making him or her a brand and putting everything into that one basket. Unfortunately, this system is unconstitutional and incorrect.

Judiciary and election commission, both of which are supposedly autonomous bodies, ought to have taken a lot of these things into serious consideration, because the executive will never propose something which binds them now or in near future.

Couple of basic electoral reforms can be good to begin with – that only a person elected to the Lok Sabha, becomes a Prime Minister through a secret ballot; there is a cooling period of at least one term before a defector can again be a legislator and criminals and other violaters should be handled seriously and debarred.

The expenditure which the party and legislators are declaring,which is of often fabricated, has to be assessed and action taken to ensure that these are properly audited. Further, in recent times the role of “influencer” has also becoming a source of erosion of democratic process. Just as for instance assume, you employ a consultant like several of them who I believe are currently in demand and raking in money, who pays for these companies? Do they have a transparent contract and who is auditing and what is work? What are they doing – Propaganda, Fixing People or culling information on potential adversaries or pressurising parties to dole out more freebies than the other without any budgetary planning for it and encouraging corruption, lobbying for specific sectors who can finance?We have already come to a situation where some corporate entities have their Rajya Sabha member at will from whichever State legislators they want themselves to be elected. The Supreme Court must step in and remind the real constitutional construct of the Indian electoral democracy.I for one feel that if the situation should not be allowed to slide further.

The drama that we have been seeing in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and now in Rajasthan is in modern terms T-Shirtable. This describes any sort of situation, logo or slogan that would look good on a T-shirt. The assets and liabilities they declared during the election could be a good base for price discovery and could encourage the same for Parliamentarians. More parameters could slowly be brought in to bring in sophistication of the process.

If political parties start behaving like corporates and there is a market for the legislative office, then we should contemplate on a political stock exchange. Atleast then there will be scope for public participation.
But that is for another day!

( The opinion expressed in this article are the personal of the author and do not reflect views of Impact News India ) 

About R Gopalakrishnan

R.Gopalakrishnan, is a Company Secretary and Legal Expert based in Hyderabad and has been gazing the stock markets for decades.

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