The last three months have seen a lot of activity concerning electoral and political reform in the country. A decision by the Central Information Commission and four judgments by the Supreme Court seem to have upset the placidity and brazen arrogance of this class.
The political establishment’s unanimous opposition to these rulings, cutting across party lines, has been a sure sign of their anxiety.
The alacrity in amending the Right to Information Act and the Representation of the People Act would be impressive if it were not so widely perceived to be against public interest.
This predictable yet saddening reaction from the political establishment stems from the mindset that, since they hold the power to make laws, no law can or should apply to them.
What our politicians do not seem to realise is that ‘rule of law’ is an essential concomitant of a liberal democracy, and it means that laws apply to everyone equally.
The entire process and effort for political and electoral reform is, in effect, an attempt to change the mindset of political parties, to make them understand and realise that ‘business as usual’ cannot continue.
They may be able to delay this a bit, but there is no way it can be denied indefinitely.
Notwithstanding this mindset and the widespread disenchantment with the prevailing political climate, there are still those who believe that there are people in political parties who are unhappy with the current state of affairs and would like things to change drastically for the better.
There is still a sense that some of the very top functionaries of certain parties want things in their organisations to change.
It is for such politicians to realise that the SC judgments and the CIC decision present an unprecedented opportunity for the political establishment to initiate a long-delayed process of reform, an opportunity that should be seized with both hands.
(Jagdeep S Chhokar is former dean of IIM-Ahmedabad and co-founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms)