The issue that has been raised by Lok Raj Sangathan, takes the debate on corruption to a higher level in my view. True, many organisations and individuals have been devoting their efforts and energies to this issue and have come up with many innovative ideas to address the problem, the situation that we find ourselves in is rather strand and reveals a deeper problem.
Instead of taking the good ideas from the people’s movement and incorporating them in the Bill to be presented in the Parliament, the Government has ignored crucial recommendations of the movement and is even questioning the right of the people to have a say in making of laws. As other speakers have already pointed out, all major political parties including the Congress Party, BJP and CPM, are united in preventing people from having a say in decisions taken by the government, though these very much effect their lives.
The roots of corruption can be seen to be in the party dominated political process and system. The party dominated political system is an effective way to keep people from exercising their rightful role in the decision making and governance of our country. To see this more clearly, it is useful to look back at the origin of the multi-party system.
The origin of multi-party political system is connected with the assertion of interest by the newly emerging bourgeois class several hundred years ago in Europe. At that time only the propertied class sent their representatives to the Parliament to openly fight for their sectional interests. The struggles for rights and freedom over hundreds of years, has resulted in acceptance of universal suffrage as a right that belongs to all people. In the post-colonial period, most countries have yielded to universal suffrage.
However, universal suffrage did not vest sovereignty in the hands of the people thanks to the party dominated political system and process. In Party dominated systems, people vote for candidates fielded by parties. After the elections, whichever party, or coalition of parties, has a simple majority in the Parliament gets to form the government and acquires the status of ruling party or coalition. Other elected people in the Parliament form the Parliamentary Opposition.
Once elections are over, people have no role whatsoever in governance until the next elections. Party system of rule allows the ruling party to exercise its dictate over its members through the parliamentary whip and this enables its high command to can take any decisions. A handful of rich and powerful only need to convince some senior leaders of the ruling coalition to get decisions in their favour even though they may be against the interest of the majority or against the general interest of Society. This is how one can understand what various scams are revealing in our country. For instance, the policy of privatization can be imposed on the society even though a large majority of the people are against the handing over of the collective assets of society for private profiteering.
As is obvious, even from the experience of presenting a people’s Lok Pal Bill to the Parliament, the present political process and system has become anachronistic. It is not consistent with the aspirations of the people and for asserting their rights. Demand of deep going reforms are coming from different quarters. People want to be able to influence what decisions are taken by the Government and are suggesting that referendums must be conducted on all important issues. They want to give different direction to the economy. They want to vote for candidates who are not under the control of moneyed interests. They want to field candidates who are not corrupt. They want to control their elected representatives by having the right to recall them, if it becomes necessary.
It is important to look at the crucial problem of people becoming sovereign. Lack of power in the hands of the people is the root of corruption. Let us actively work to bring people’s control over their elected representatives and over the Institutions of State.