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They love Parliament

India is not agitating against parliamentary democracy, but for it to revive, writes Amaresh Misra.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2011 21:01 IST

Till a chubby, fragile, 74-year-old man reminded India of the power of mass movements, several myths about political action had become established facts. The media today would like to see itself as the harbinger of the revival of the Indian street. But this same media, over the past two decades was painting an entirely different picture before people.

Political leaders with a bureaucratic-technocratic-economist-managerial mindset were encouraged by all parties — especially the Congress and the BJP. This led to the latter’s defeat in 2004 and the now the Congress stands at a crucial crossroads. The greatest tragedy of the Congress has been that party managers did not allow hard-boiled, real-world Indian politics, with its pro-poor policies, to prosper. Effectively, Congress managers have been smothering their own baby.

This alliance mentioned earlier fails to understand mass dynamics. For instance, it has failed to see that the past 20 years of economic reforms have also created a new desire for political reforms. In the pre-liberalisation era, Indian society, following the mixed economy logic, was plagued more by nepotism -— by a sifarish (facilitation), rather than a rishvat (bribe) culture. Barring the top layer of the establishment, money as such did not play such a big part earlier. In the post-liberalisation era, the amount of money pumped into the economy increased ten-fold, leading to plenty of scope for crony capitalism — and corruption became directly related to capital generation.

Somewhere down the road, the line between politics and business, politicians and criminals, became blurred. Politics was seen increasingly as consisting of money-media-muscle power. The concept of ‘masses’ and mass power in the political equation disappeared.

Which has led to people not buying the logic that Parliament is distinguished enough to be the sole forum to frame the laws of the land. Frankly, the Anna Hazare movement shows that the Indian people’s trust in Parliament is tenuous. This is very much a constitutional-democratic, rather than an ‘anti-democratic’ or an ‘anti-constitutional’ urge.

The truth is that democracy for many is too important to be left only in the hands of Parliament. That the Indian Parliament has a serious trust deficit for most people is something that shouldn’t be denied. The agitation for the Jan Lokpal Bill is just a strand of a larger response to this crisis.

( Amaresh Misra is convener, Anti-Communal Front, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee )

The views expressed by the author are personal