Author: Arun Shourie
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8129111926
With 99 per cent of legislators getting elected by a minority of electors: with scores of them getting elected on 15-20 per cent of the votes cast-that is, by 7-10 per cent of the population, how representative is our parliamentary system? Does the present system not induce political parties to go on splintering our people? Can the country cohere when the people are splintered? Are those in government accountable to Parliament? Or are they the government precisely because they, and those who control them, control Parliament?
With 39 parties in the Lok Sabha; with governments consisting of 14 parties, is this system yielding the strong, cohesive, effective governments our country needs? Is the system placing power in the hands of persons who have the capability, dedication and integrity to run ministries, to assess legislative proposals, to assess alternate policies? Or is it bringing a worse and worse lot into legislatures and governments? Is it inducing them to do well by the people when they are in office, or does it tell them that performance does not matter, that stitching 'alliances' is the substitute for performance? Does it not make adversarial and obstructionist politics inevitable?
How much lower must governance sink before we will conclude that this system has run its course? That we must devise an alternative? What could that alternative be?
What happens when these legislators claim, and appropriate 'sovereignty'? Is the dyke that the Judiciary has constructed-that the Basic Structure of the Constitution cannot be altered-not a necessary protection against the political class? But can an alternate system be devised which well not breach this necessary dyke?
Who is to champion that alternative?
In this searing critique, Arun Shourie, takes on these question, and more.
A must for our times. A must for strengthening our country.
1. Is this system a law of nature?
2. The system we have
3. Myths about the present system
4. Just one among many possible systems
5. The alternative
6. The alert and quick-acting sovereign
7. Sovereignty in full spate
8. Some important lessons
9. Lessons from Liberals, for liberals
10. Romanticizing ‘the people’
A few readings