Is Parliament Supreme?
A new awakening in Indian democratic evolution!
It is a victory for the people of India! A historic victory, a historic moment too!
Anna Hazare, soon after Parliament in an unusual sign of unanimity and even magnanimity passed a united resolution to uphold the demands of the people’s movement to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill incorporating the three demands put forward by the great Anna.
That was an unprecedented victory for Indian democracy.
The very important point to be noted here is that India after Anna’s fast and the outcome of it was very different a country and a nation.
Indian democracy is now tested in a severe manner by Anna’s fast. A fast, though reminiscent of the Mahatma’s many, similar-looking fasts, fasts unto death or indefinite fast, as non-violent means the great Mahatma adopted in various stages of freedom struggle, this time, in Independent India, after 65 years of testing our democracy and where Parliament is supreme and why, where other institutions of our democratic governance, be it the executive, the judiciary and even the fourth pillar, the media is free and why, even the fundamental rights of the citizens have undergone many forms and much weight after a series of new rights and creation of newer institutions, the Right to Information, being the latest, the various Commissions, Human Rights Commissions, the Lok Ayukta, as it is currently operating in Karnataka (where ironically, as we type these lines the TV news channels flash the breaking news that the former CM, B.S.Yeddyurappa is asked by the High Court to appear personally before the Lok Ayukta court even specifying the time, as 3 pm, otherwise it might have to order his arrest!), the Indian Republic today is a vastly changed polity since the days of the Mahatma times.
Yes, Anna Hazare’s fast and “victory”(Anna calls it only “a half victory”!) is to be taken in the correct perspective.
It is a new type of people’s movement this time; it is really a very vast awakening that has taken place in the India of 2011, a prosperous or near prosperous emerging new political and economic power.
This historic context one should not lose sight of, as it would otherwise give a very misleading and even a dangerous mindset for the common man.
Anna “won” because the new educated and rising middle class has realised that things had gone far enough just to let the elected representatives, the MLAs and MPs, in the States and at the Centre are doing their jobs well.
No, they have failed us. They have continued to fail us even now, after the second term of the UPA is well past two years.
This is the scenario today. Manmohan Singh’s competencies we were told (or fed by the obliging media?) to believe are found to be false.
The UPA, as led by the Congress party had failed the hopes and expectations. Corruption reached such proportions that even the otherwise rather incompetent government had to concede ground to the other branch of the Constitution, namely, the Supreme Court to seize the initiative. So, we have the Cabinet Minister, the Rajya Sabha MP, along with the CWG executive and the high profile corporate executives and corporate heavyweights have to languish in Tihar jail for so long.
There is something very obnoxious about the political and social scene and life in general today in the country.
We have a situation or we have led to a situation to emerge where the common citizens have to live in much fear and uncertainty.
Why the citizens have to go to jail and refused bail and you spend your time in jail for well a length of time you don’t know when you will really get the various processes and protections of the law. Is this the protection we get, as citizens, under our very excellent Constitution of India?
We are now told that Parliament is not supreme, it is the Indian Constitution that is supreme. Fine, then where is the resort for me, as a citizen to seek the courts’s protection from the arbitrary governance.
Can’t we say that today we are governed so badly that we don’t know whether we would get the protection of the law that guarantees our freedoms under the Constitution?
Is this the governance that ensures the citizens’ freedoms?
The issues are now becoming irrational and unintelligent.
It is a sad thought and we can’t hide it that under the very learned and supposedly enlightened leadership of Dr.Manmohan Singh we have reached a stage where we don’t know when we would get our normal days of life, when we would get bail, we would get our freedoms, even if we had committed some serious offences.
This is not now the case.
That is why when Anna Hazare launched his indefinite fast we saw the new generation mass of crowds in all corners of India, a crowd that simply brought back the old freedom struggle days, the Quit India movement and similar old nostalgia.
So, to cut the story short, it is true that the present government, the party that rules had disconnected themselves from the pulse of the people and in that sense the Anna’s fast was the rational outcome of a very genuine democratic expression of the popular will of the last man and thus justified for what it had achieved.
There were many important people, VIPs, Constitutional experts and intellectuals and others (like Soli Sorabjee and Arundati Roy and many others, even those who were seen as part of Team Anna and yet there were murmurs of dissension within the Team Anna and Anna a very shrewd man who h changed his negotiators at various stages in the negotiations with the government) didn’t see the true momentum and the true significance of the mass movement it was.
Also, in this context we saw a total ignorance, yes, that is the right word, of Parliamentary history both inside the country and much more in the outside world, in the great democracies of the world. More so in the mother of all parliamentary democracies, namely, the UK. The very Magna Carta of 1215, and much after down the centuries to our own day, there were mass movements, many other movements to replace undemocratic behaviour of the ruling regimes. In UK, the very 18th and 19th centuries alone we can see how the British Parliament evolved. Parliament’s powers and privileges were changed by Parliamentary Reform Acts, after struggles from the poeple. The very Anit-Corn Law agitations, the heroes of that agitation are reminiscent of the present Anna’a agitation!
It is a long history and a big subject.
Inside India, we had the Emergency days. Why? And what happened afterwards? V.P.Singh’s revolt and afterwards!
So, let us, the Congress party and the government be a bit modest.
Let not the current mood get any more sullen or turn into cynical anymore.
In the next one or two months’ time, the Lokpal Bill has to be passed and that would be political maturity. No amount of legal quibbling anymore, please!
So, there is a place for peoples’ movements and peoples’ agitations in a democracy, more so in a Parliamentary Democracy.
On the part of Team Anna, there is also a need for much restraint. Too many agendas and ideas of too frequent agitations would take away the great historic moment. Let us, the citizens of this country, savour the fruits of such a historic victory for the Indian typical non-violent, peaceful agitations.
This would the envy of the outside world.
India has friends and also jealous friends. The other successful democracies and others might not fully acknowledge our success and the success functioning of our democracy. So let us keep our vigil on the outside world too!
Image Source : arabianbusiness.com