Need for reforms in democratic systems
Frequent elections disrupt governance, deplete the exchequer and promote competitive populism, says Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj ji
In a bid to reform the parliamentary system of frequent elections, the Prime Minister of India introduced an idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ and called for a national debate on this, which was also supported by the president as well as election commission. It won’t be unreasonable to state that the Indian polity is perennially in an election mode. Barring a few exceptional years within a normal five-year tenure of the Lok Sabha, the country witnesses, on an average, elections to about five to seven State Assemblies every year. And we all know that elections in a country like India are massive, festive events. However, one must also understand a fact that frequent elections disrupt governance, deplete the exchequer and promote competitive populism. At this juncture, when so much has been said and is being said against parliamentary elections, it would be appropriate to look into some other relevant aspects of the democratic system of government.
As is well-known, in a democratic system, besides the party in power, a strong opposition party that can enter into a debate and can criticise the policies of the ruling party and is ready, as an alternative to the existing government, is considered very essential. Now, whatever be the merits of this two-party or multiparty system of governing a nation, it presupposes or inter-poses the spirit of constant opposition and even antagonism between two or more parties. It thus divides a nation into groups, which owe allegiance to their respective party-constitution and party-leader and have narrow group interests uppermost in their mind. It also divides the society on linguistic, casteist, communal and other basis, both horizontally and vertically. Under such a scenario, every party becomes power hungry and those, which are not in power, adopt tactics to keep the ruling party on tenterhooks, without allowing it peace and easy breathing, with the result that the ruling party cannot formulate and implement any long-term policy nor can it take any unpopular step in national interest. Further, in order to win the support of the majority of voters, every party indulges in some populist cliches and makes some promises which serve as merely vote-catching devices but not necessarily practical or beneficial to the health of the nation.
This gives rise to falsehood and wrong habits in leaders and their parties. Moreover, since their eyes are fixed on power, not only does every party point to the faults and shortcomings of others but every elected member constantly derides and ridicules the members of the other parties, particularly the person or the party which stood or is likely to stand against him in elections, considering the latter as his adversary.
In the net result, one finds that unity, co-operation and inter-party goodwill are lost and their place is captured by narrow party-interests or selfish motives and by the habits of exaggeration, falsehood, fault-finding, etc. Moreover, since the rise to power is the ultimate goal and achievement of seats in the government are the sign of success, nothing is left out to achieve these and to occupy the prestigious seats in this race of musical chairs. Caste, community, money, muscle power, men, media — every conceivable thing is used towards this end. Any issue is thought appropriate as an electoral issue and its importance is highlighted even at the risk of accentuating the divisiveness, bitterness or even enmity between various groups. ‘Service of the nation’ remains an attractive slogan of every party though the real and hidden motive is to capture the levers of power. And, to fulfill this motive, some even resign from one party and join another, without regard to any principle and according to their convenience, and some parties combine with others or get split into two or more.
Thus, a deep study of merits and demerits of this system would show that it raises more problems than it solves and, even if it was initially a good system, it has now degenerated like other systems and has led to government of the people who do not ‘serve’ the people in the real sense of the word. So, in order to have a government that governs the least and the best, it is necessary that the moral stature of the people be raised high through education in values. And when all or most of the people will be of strong character, then parties and sectional representatives will not be required at all.
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