Iraq War


India Elections

US Imperialism

Peak Oil


WSF In India







Gujarat Pogrom






Join Mailing List

Submit Articles

Contact Us


Politics And Politicians

By Acharya Ramamurty

19 April, 2004

Chief Election Commissioner of India recently compared politicians with cancer. Cancer is an incurable disease. Proper treatment can only prolong life but can't avert death. Is this the condition of our politicians as well? More than fifty years ago, our constitution was drafted in the constituent assembly. It took two-and-a-half years to frame the constitution. The president of the constituent assembly was our beloved leader, known as a follower of Gandhi, Rqjendra Babu. The Constituent Assembly comprised mostly of freedomfighters, not politicians. The Assembly functioned under the leadership of Nehru and Patel. Dr. Ambedkar was the chairman of the Drafting Committee. The constitution framed by the Assembly is the biggest the world has known. The constitutions of England and America are far smaller. But neither America nor England is as old, and full of diversities great and as India is. Only China is larger.

How strange that the word 'party' no where occurs in our constitution, still our politics is made of parties. Where did the parties come from? Gandhiji in his Will And Testament had advised the Congress to disband itself as an organization and become an election-fighting machine. The Congress did not disband itself; instead, an election fighting party was formed. The Congress Socialists separated from the Congress in 1948 and organized their own party. In due course of time other parties were formed. As of today there are parties galore, national, regional, while regional are more and national less. Present- day parties are move in the nature of interest- groups than political parties. Soon our seemingly political coalitions may lead to the formation of caste- and community coalitions.

The constitution outlines the process how, after the elections, a government is to be formed. The language of the constitution is:

The President or Governor will call upon one to form a government as commands, or is likely to command, a stable majority in the legislature. It is this search for majority that has given birth to parties.

The crucial question, however, is as to how could a political party, forming the government or sitting in OPPOSition become cancerous. The constituent assembly did not, could not, foresee that it was producing cancerous cells. The Assembly was composed of patriotic and seasoned leaders. During the struggle for independence the congress was an organisation, a front, a movement. It functioned generally under the advice of Gadhiji but its control and direction were in the hands of the Congress Working Committee. The Congress organization was national. It represented national aspiration irrespective of caste, community, region etc. There were separate organization of Hindus and muslims also.

It was Gandhiji's speciality that he trained the nation to fight without violence. He taught peoplel how to say 'no'. The second distinctive feature of our struggle against foreign rule was that it united the whole country. As freedom approached unity became weaker and weaker, so much so during the last four years the struggle became move a mere legal bargaining than satyagraha. On one side was pitted the British imperialism alligned to the Muslim League, and on the other side was the nationalist Congress, which had to fight on both the fronts of unity and freedom. This led to the result that the Raj won and the country lost. The Raj came to an end but the country was divided. Unity was lost. The British rule whose foundations were laid in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 ended in 1947. The rule that was established by the law of the British parliament after the Revolt in 1857 ended in 1947 by the law of the same parliament. More Indians were killed in1947 than were killed in 1857. British rule was established by 'law' but was soaked in blood. It ended by law but India got drenched in blood.

Gandhi's last fight was directed towards saving India and Pakistan from further harrors of partition. He was scheduled to go to Pakistan on February 8 and 9, 1948. By sending two of his companions to Pakistan, Gandhiji had secured the permission of Qaidee Azam Jinnah, the Governor General of Pakistan. Jinnah had entrusted Abdul Rab Nishtar, one of his ministers, to take care of Gandhi's tour. Within ten days of this programme getting finalized Gandhiji was assassinated!

Independent India's journey started with the killing of more than ten lakhs of people, besides Gandhii's own assassination. Independence came, the British flag yielded place to the national flag, but the weapon of non-violence with which freedom was won got defeated. Gandhiji was not present in Delhi celebrations to witness his defeat!

New Delhi abandoned non-violence and Gandhi turning his face against Delhi went to Noakhali. Delhi rule replaced British rule, while Gandhiji started his non-violent campaign in riot-torn Noakhali. The Delhi government was formed under Nehruji's leadership. Viceroy Mountbatten remained the Governor- General of the new government for eight months after he had pulled down the British flag. The new government decided to keep the structure built by the British lock, stock and barrel. During the struggle for independence it was sometimes thought that after the end of the Raj some type of panchayatiraj would be established but that was not to be. Our leaders wanted a powerful India on the pattern of European nationstates. New India had wanted liberal democracy of the British type. The Indian capitalists wanted English trade and commerce to be replaced by Indian trade and enterprise. The new state needed resources and trade needed protection of the state. It became a happy alliance between state and trade. Politics and trade followed the same path they had already done. The country had been delivered from a foreign yoke, the call of a powerful state appealed to it also. Thus such an atmosphere was created in 1947 when the constituent assembly also found it worthy to go the familiar way of parliamentary government.

The paths of Delhi and Gandhi became different. The alienation between Gandhi and congress leaders started in 1934 and after that till the end Gandhi remained an advisor of Congress, not its member. And he tendered an advice only tbi~iT when the congress sought it. During the days after release from Jail in 1944 the Congress president talked to the British not Gandhiji. Gandhiji went to Noakhali not as a representative of the Congress but as a devotee, of peace, good-will and nonviolence. Gandhiji had thought that if the nation lives, the state lives. Delhi thought if the state livq~the nation lives. Once it was decided the task of the constituent assembly became easy. The structure of the constitution framed by the constituent assembly was of a liberal democracy type. Liberal democracy needs political parties. Adult franchise was granted. This is amply clear from the fact that democracy enunciated by the constitution did not fall in line with our tradition. It was alien. The constitution's expectation was that 'Swadeshi' voters would run an alien democracy and the bureaucracy would develop the country and give protecton to Big Business.

Winning a majority for coming to power requires a lot of money. And if money finds entry into politics through the channel of elections, there will be no limit to the use of money, money leads to power; power leads both to pelf and priviledge .Government means both power and money. We are witness to the fact that market and government are responsible for most of corruption. And we are adopting a life-style which needs money, yet more money and the latest gadgets. How long can man resist the temptations of a consumerist life. We are after money. The Government makes laws the market break them for projects. We use laws for gain. Examine it minutely and you'll find government money is at the root of every case of corruption. Every thing now is an 'industry’- even sex!

Where are the politicians then?

Politics has to be changed right from the very roots. For changing politics what needs be changed first of all is the economic policy. We have to think in terms of a new life-a new state, a new social order, and a new design of life. That is why J. P. talked of a Total Revolution. No half-way house any more!

J P said that democracy is essential but it should not end with electing representatives as it is today but should be of the kind that makes the citizen and voter participants in the democratic process.. The mantra of Indian democracy as given by the great Buddha was: meet, talk agree.

No majority rule.

The politics that we have developed during more than the last fifty years has affected both the state and the nation. If politicians are cancerous the roots of the cancer are there in our politics and that cancer has affected both the state and nation.The state has become corrupt and incompetent while the nation has forgotten Gandhi's 'No'.

The state with its arm ,the government is too much with us. We must have less government much less than now. The first step is what we call decentralization. According to Gandhiji, why should the strength in parliament exceed fifty This is high time that in accordance with what Gandhiji had said , power must be scattered in 5 lakhs of India's villages. This will be possible only when we treat panchayatiraj as an opportunity for reorganizing our power structure ,work of administration and development must be done locally.if power is distributed in 5 lakhs of villages the workload of state capitals will come down sharply.District and state will become autonomous ,and with lighter workload, Delhi will be much more competent. The government should be small but efficient and effective. panchayat should be powerful and responsible. Panchayatiraj has given a golden opportunity.We must not allow it to slip away from our hands.The consequences will be disasterous. A new India backons us.

Acharya Ramamurty
C/o, Aman Namra
B-6T, Delhi Police Apartment
Mayur Vihar- Phase-1
Delhi – 110091