Case for permanent Lok Sabha

Case for permanent Lok Sabha

With hardly 20-30% of votes, candidates often get elected, and with 30-31% national votes, a party gets to rule.

Overseeing the government is the original and principal writ or purpose of parliament made up of people’s elected representatives. And therefore, the MPs are not the clients, vassals or dependents of the government or ministers and cabinet of the day.

In principle, the locus, tenure and destinies of government on the one hand and the MPs on the other require to be mutually independent. Thus, the legitimacy, constant renewing and political acceptability of governments are through parliament.

Parliament cannot be dep­endent on the caprice and political exigencies of the incumbent governments, and allurements like the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Sch­eme (MPLADS) funds, or other kinds of prejudicial warping.

Therefore, the provision/ prospect for government’s recommendation of dissolution of parliament is not in consonance with the principle of parliamentary supremacy and independent democratic control.

As of now, with the prospect of dissolution, the MPs are virtually held in thrall by governments and this indeed is against parliamentary control, and the principles of democracy and representative government.

For this control to be really enabled, we should have a permanent parliament with members cyclically and periodically changing; and correspondingly, elections will have to be held cyclically in each of various constituencies, once in five years.

Half yearly elections to parliament in every set of 50-55 constituencies spread evenly all over the country — say eight in Uttar Pradesh, three in Karnataka, four in Tamil Nadu etc.

After a tenure of five years, the particular incumbent MP will go and another will duly get elected. Byelections also may be clubbed with these. This is very much like instalment elections to the Rajya Sabha. With this, the membership of parliament will acquire a dynamic response to public opinion aspect vis-a-vis party support; and people will have a significant role to approve or disapprove governments’ conduct.

All kinds of social and political happenings will come to be electorally considered by the people and the group of MPs will represent the contemporary opinion, censure and opprobrium.

With votes in mind, governments are known to indulge in small and grave misdemean­ours, indiscretions and partisan conduct very frequently and will be controlled at the altar of six-monthly elections. As regards the turn of the prime minister and Speaker, as they leave parliament and get re-elected, they may seek a vote of confidence after re-election and continue.

These instalment elections will witness associated changes in the composition of various parliamentary committees also. And new expertise and experience in committees and governments can be inducted thus, so that personnel content is improved constantly.

The work of the committees of parliament will secure a whiff of fresh air or renewal and becomes more perspicuous, serious and substantive; and is a part of parliament’s overseeing of government. This system may be applied in the case of state assemblies also.

From the point of view of parties, these half-yearly elections will provide due scope for choosing suitable candidates unhurriedly. And even party-consti­tuency level primaries may be held to choose candidates for fielding in parliamentary elections. This may result in thus forestalling upstarts, criminals, vested interests and money bags and encouraging public spirited knowledgeable people, indeed a process of deepening the spirit of democracy.

Fairness of operations

Time-tested politically credible war horses may be re-fielded in elections and their presence in parliament ensured. The gover­nment’s election and police machinery also may be duly deplo­yed with possible and necessary transfers keeping fairness of operations in view; and compelled halting of governments’ decisions and deliberations due to pendency of elections will stop.

The well-known phasing of elections (response/device for meeting, often difficult, law and order requirements) by the Election Commission gets built into this cyclical system of parliamentary elections.

Election expenses are becoming huge and with this changed system, they get less painfully budgeted and apportioned. The requisite election discipline, expenditure control, confiscation of cash etc may be better enforced in a decentralised staggered way on the candidates and parties.

The representative character of elected members and parties is constantly credibly doubted due to the multiplicity of nondescript parties, self styled leaders in the prevailing first past the post system. Very often, with hardly 20-30% of polled votes, a candidate gets elected; and with hardly 30-31% of national vote, a party gets to rule with a majority.

To remedy this systemically, every election in any parliamentary constituency may be through a run-off or two election system as is practiced in France; the second election to be held after 15-20 days of the first, may be between the first two highest vote getting candidates. This adds to the reality or credibility of representativeness of the elected MPs and MLAs.

(The writer was a professor with Maharaja’s College, Mysuru)
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