Prime Minister is the supreme political authority under the Constitution.
Unfortunately, things are turned upside down!
What a surprise! I was to write on the Prime Minister’s current difficulties over the Coalgate scam and the way he is almost hounded by the media and the Opposition parties and a variety of vested interests.
Poor man! That is how the rest of the world would lament on the plight of the Indian Prime Minister. All this is happening when the Indian Prime Minister is on the foreign soil, in Russia and China where he is holding high level talks with world leaders.
Just now, I read the edit-page column by the veteran Member of Parliament Mr.Gurudas Das Dupta (Oct, 24, 2013).Why the surprise? The distinguished M.P. Is perhaps the only one in the current Parliament who stands out as the most vocal and the most committed representative of the people? One may disagree with him on everything he does or represents but who can fail to admire his role model status and stature.
Every Parliament used to have such star members and in this I am sure Mr.Das Gupta would find his place in the rolls of honour of the Indian Parliamentary history.
Now, as for the Prime Minister, I have some personal interest and links. I was at Oxford when the PM was a research scholar there. I was a member of the famed Oxford Debating Union and was active whereas I know Dr.Singh was a lonely figure who mostly kept to himself. I studied British Parliamentary history as a specialised subject and thus knew what it were to be a Member of Parliament and even the Prime Minister. Every other British Prime Minister, from the most colorful to the most colorless (from Churchill to Clement Atlee) had their own contributions to history.
Now, why the PM is in trouble. My reasoning, both theoretical and practical, is that the PM is not a political animal first! Thus, he is handicapped by his own shortcomings. A Prime Minister in a Parliamentary Democracy must lead from the front, so to say. This, our PM doesn’t do, sadly. His personality is not suited to the high office he chose to preside over for so long.
Under the Indian Constitution, the Prime Minister is the supreme political authority. What Mr.Das Gupta says in his article is already known widely. How Parliament is now not functioning at its optimum levels. There is deterioration, steady interruptions, why even the number of undesirable MPs. Das Gupta himself cites 76 MPs out of 543 MPs are having criminal cases against them pending.58 MPs are crorepatis. These are not just aberrations. There are much more serious issues.
First of all, why party leaders choose these criminal elements as MPs?
Can we not ask: if only Sonia Gandhi is serious she could have screened these tainted MPs? Why she didn’t do this?
If only, other party leaders, regional ones like the RJD, the DMK and others had chosen to send only the qualified, educated and competent, then we would have seen a different type of Parliament.
Luckily, the first great Parliamentary reform is to see the elements like the RJD chief and his cronies, the same applies of course for the rest of the regional parties too, the DMK and the ADMK send out members who can’t even stand up and speak in Parliament!
There are any numbers of such elements who contribute to the downgrading of Parliament. Now, as for the Prime Minister he should have both moral authority and stature, before he had Constitutional mandate. May be future historians of Parliament would do research what was the contribution of Manmohan Singh to the evolution of Indian Parliament.
He has a series of bad lessons. First his election process to Rajya Sabha. Then, his own limitations. Unless the Prime Minister intervenes effectively in Parliamentary debates and assert his compulsions and other issues that drive him to do what he does how the Constitution alone can come to his rescue.
In the present instance, the Prime Minister allotted coal blocks to KM Birla owing to the fact that the company is big and big investments and bi employment potential and also big regional development in a backward state like Odisha, apart from all other legal and other norms of coal block allocations. The Prime Minister has the authority, both legal and also other extraordinary considerations to allot coal blocks as he deems fit.
In fact, if I were the Prime Minister in his place I would openly say and assert that India has to accelerate economic growth, India has to compete with China in developing our basic industries and so it is very imperative that the government must take a decision to go out of the way to allot blocks and speed up growth.
The Supreme Court has its own role. But the top court can’t accelerate economic growth. It is the job of the executive. There are clear demarcations of powers under the Constitution. The Prime Minister has so many privileges and prerogatives.
It is his domain to take such extra-ordinary decisions. Was there any criminality, any deliberate violations of basic laws?
Was there any money exchanges?
These are the only things to be examined and the matter should be left there to rest. One for all. If I can recall some precedents.
When Pandit Nehru was the Prime Minister and when K.Kamaraj as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the CM and his able industries minister R.Venkatraman represented to Nehru(it was license raj then) that the Central government was favouring only the North Indian industrialists, Nehru called the secretary and dictated a letter to issue an industrial license to Kamaraj. When he asked for the name in which the license to be given, there was then only one individual available willing to implement the project.
The Madras Aluminum and the South India Vicose were the two companies in question. The one license was issued in the name of R.Venkatasmy Naidu (my friend).
That is how TN got such big industries. So too, in a similar way, we need today big, basic industries and it is entirely in the domain of the PM’s authority to do what the PM had done.
But alas! The PM doesn’t have the stature to stand up and assert his prerogatives. He is seen as weak and also he himself contributed to his own downgrading. It is a pity. That is how we have to say now.
In fact, Parliamentary Democracy is getting further eroded of its prestige.
This is a serious issue and the many Constitutional Reforms, now the Electoral Reforms are all getting top priority. If some people are to be held responsible, it is Sonia Gandhi and also Manmohan Singh. Sonia Gandhi’s limitations are one type. Manmohan Singh’s limitations are another type.
Manmohan is a learned man. He should have quietly advised the Madam to change things. This he didnt. So, he lost all goodwill in the eyes of the people.
Now, the people would judge things. Peoples’ perception if after all what matters in a democracy. Luckily, the Indian people haven’t failed India. Let us hope the next election too would come out with a solution, the peoples mandate is always proving right. So far. So good!