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The Price of Democracy

The Price of Democracy

People make democracy a success. Leaders fail it. This is the message one gets from the devious developments following the recent State elections. The scenes enacted in Goa and Manipur after both of them threw up hung Assemblies put democracy to shame. The Bharatiya Janata Party which fell terribly short of numbers in both States cobbled up governments within a day of the announcement of results. Contrast it with Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where it scored more than two-thirds majority, but it took over a week to put the government in place. The alacrity with which the BJP did an ‘overnight coup’, especially in Goa, speaks volumes about the lack of political morality in today’s lead players.

Here the role of the Governors too comes into question. The well accepted practice and existing guidelines make it clear that if a party gets majority on its own, it should get the first call to form the government. If no single party gets majority, but a pre-poll alliance gets majority, it should be called. If both these situations do not exit, the single largest party should get the chance to prove its majority on the floor of the House. If that too fails, a post-poll alliance will be given the chance.  In Goa and Manipur, these well established procedures were conveniently ignored and the BJP got the most favoured status to form the government. 

One may or may not take seriously Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that the saffron party ‘threw money to steal the mandate’. But, there is more to it than meets the eye if a party that fought the election on strident anti-BJP plank gets on to the lap of the latter to form the government. If an independent candidate who fought the election with the Congress support has turned his back on the latter after his victory and walked over to the ‘enemy’ camp, there is something rotting in Denmark. The biggest tragedy is that leaders tend to tilt towards power and pelf. They flock to existing power-centres like bees to honey. This is unmaking of democracy and the country is made to witness this inglorious scenario on many occasions.  

Both in Goa and Manipur, the Congress party has to partially take the blame for the delay in working out its strategy in the wake of a fractured verdict. Reports suggest that the party lost precious time unable to zero in on its leader of the legislature party. With many of its former Chief Ministers winning the election, the Congress had to settle the internal wrangling before settling down to work out the strategy of government formation. The saffron party acted fast and made a march over its rival. However, it is no justification for putting the axe to the root of democracy. Unfortunately, it is the small States that fall victim to the undemocratic machinations of the powers-that-be. We saw it in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh last year. Forming governments through back door does not augur well for democracy.

#(Published on 20th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 12)