Our Democracy Is About People, Not Parliament

What started in Jantar Mantar as Anna Hazare leading a protest against the all pervasive corruption in Government has become an unprecedented nation wide mobilization of people and minds on the issue of governance and corruption in India.

It was scoffed at then by the Delhi elite – the establishment friendly Editors went to lengths in describing this first as a protest by a few, then it became the protest of the middle class and so on and so forth. The establishment lived in denial then and have been dragged kicking and screaming into the reality of peoples anger, frustration and exasperation with the status quo.

While the debate has now moved on to the nitty gritty of the Jan Lokpal institution that is being proposed as the Anti Corruption law – there are few significant points that have already been established and are worth reiterating. Firstly – that people of India are fed up and beyond exasperation on Corruption and the form of Governance they are experiencing .

Secondly – that the ruling clique/establishment and their friends in media and elsewhere are hopelessly out of touch with the pulse of nation and mood of the people.

The second is particularly worrying. Some weeks ago, I wrote about the growing distance between Delhi and the rest of India and the idea of India. Take a look at what the response of the Delhi clique has been – Establishment friendly editors first dismissed the Anna Hazare movement as a ‘middle class’/ ‘elite’ (as if that somehow disqualifies them from protesting!), smug and smirking ministers (smug about their knowledge about constitutional law and criminal law) first tried smearing the leadership of the protesters, when that failed tried a bit of stick by arresting Anna Hazare and his team, and when that failed resorted to every present argument of conspiracy theories of mysterious forces (including USA, RSS, foreign countries) being behind a elaborate plan to destabilize India – (Conspiracy theorists would love this – imagine this millions of Indians being enrolled into a foreign enemy led revolution!). If all this didn’t have you shaking your head in disbelief and increduility, you have other actors joining this tragicomedy –ranging from description of protesters as kool-aid drinkers by a tech guru or as Taliban by Arundhati Roy and a group of others wanting to jump onto this bandwagon not wanting to lose the sudden opportunity of publicity and visibility with their versions of bills (without even having one !), or Ram vilas Paswan in Parliament arguing that Jan Lokpal Bill was anti minority - to be challenged by Ali Anwar, JDU MP who should make us all proud of what secularism is all about – !

And if all this wasn’t enough to get you shaking your head, then this will – the conduct/loss of political instinct of a Government popularly elected with a large mandate just 2 years ago, even more incredulous was the response in the last 48 hours – First, Faced with a deterioting and declining health of Annaji, the Prime Ministers statement in Parliament states his recently discovered ‘respect for Annaji and for his idealism’. It’s a different matter that this respect for his idealism and his efforts at fighting corruption weren’t more in evidence when Annaji was being arrested and hauled away to Tihar Jail (that housed former Cabinet and Political colleagues) or over the last 5 months when smug ministers were running circles around Annas team in a ‘up the garden path’ negotiation!.

Next, we have the collective sigh of relief from all Indians when they hear the Government promising to discuss the Jan Lokpal bill in Parliament – a sign of a compromise , followed in a few hours by the young leader of the Congress suggesting that a compromise was far from a reality because he believed in a far more longer term solution to the problem of corruption which included Consitutitional amendments etc,- in effect telling a country drowning in a deluge of corruption to swim in it for some more time while a longer term shelter is prepared - leaving all of us in a situation wondering what the Government is really going to do .

There’s also a new mantra being chanted by the Delhi elite – Its called the Supremacy of the Parliament theory. It’s clear they don’t understand our democracy, republic or constitution. When Dr Ambedkar wrote our constitution - he prefaced it with ‘We the people’. It means that People are supreme. The concept of Parliamentary supremacy is only vis a vis the other arms of our democracy ie Executive and Judiciary. To suggest that Parliament is supreme over the People is to distort the fundamental DNA of our constitution.

So, as representatives of the people within Parliament, it is the beholden duty of MPs to respond to this outpouring of views and concerns – voiced by our fellow citizens and to quote Thomas Jefferson, “A little Rebellion now and then is a good thing. It’s a medicine necessary for the sound health of the Government”. Jai Anna

(This appeared as an article in Sunday Standard and New Indian Express on Sunday, August 28th, 2011)



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19 Responses to “Our Democracy Is About People, Not Parliament”

  1. Deaz  on August 28th, 2011

    Nice post

  2. Amod  on August 28th, 2011

    Hi Rajeev,

    you have hit the nail on head; nice to hear an MP’s perspectives on recent happenings. Democracy has always been about the people. The fact that constitution makes the parliament supreme is because it’s the people who send their representatives to parliament, ultimately it’s the people who are empowered. Therefore, it’s the duty of parliament in it’s own interest and in the interest of constitution to remain connected with the people and make laws which people want. Thanks for your insights into it.

  3. Hemang  on August 28th, 2011

    Excellent article Sir, very important in times very ruling elite is trying to somehow impose upon the people through their friendly journalists the idea that the fundamental right to peaceful protest is undemocratic and unconstitutional :)

    Paris, France

  4. kohimavittal  on August 28th, 2011

    Yes. People is supreme no doubt about it. It must be the majority of the people. If majority of the people who in the name of WE PEOPLE really represent the people then there will not be any dispute.The question is who is representing majority of the people is to be decided by election only.The main reason behind the mass support for Anna Hazare came only because of his personal integrity and honesty.See what happened to the fast by Baba Ramdev. To cover up his own corrupt deals Ramdev also collected huge crowd at Ram Lila.So the right thinking people must contest elections and get elected and pass all the legislation that is pro poor.
    Another major reason for the disenchantment with the politicians and political party is lack of internal democracy and election within the party.
    If elections are held from the village levels and periodic meeting of the elected office bearers are held at regular intervals,the elected party leaders will keep in touch with common man and discuss and frame policies for the welfare of the people.Unless election commission is not empowered to derecongnize and cancel the registration if prople organisational elections are held there will be leaders who are nominated by their respective high commands will never know the problems of the common man

  5. Girish  on August 28th, 2011

    Sir, you are one of the very few of our MP’s who are representatives of the common man, in the true sense. Saw you ,when you volunteered to attend the meeting at Freedom Park, Bangalore. All present were visibly glad to find the first brave heart venturing into the unknown (for MP’s). We thank Annaji for uniting our Nation and look forward to the right people joining the Governing service. God be with us.

  6. Mohana Rao B.V.  on August 28th, 2011

    I wish to inform that this is first time after Mahatma’s movement, people of all class and religion joined without aspiring for personal fame or name.

    This Jan Lokpal bill has reached at least one person in each of the remote village.

    At Bangalore in the Freedom park where I had been to register, I asked few of the young students, who has less knowledge on first day about Govt. bill and Jan lokpal bill. But after one week there was virtual high level intelligensia on this subject.

    Really as communicated in your blog, time and again GOD cannot come to rescue of mankind but will send messenger of peace to do the cleaning.
    Iam waiting for the acceptance of the bill in both horses and the first official to get trapped and thrown to gallows.

    First the media probably was purchased, but when Shri. Padamabha temple issue became a back seater (Remember Rs. 1Lakh crore worth jewels - $ 20 Billion) and foreign media started concentrating on Shri. Anna Hazare, our media straighened and became more people friendly.

    What a great operation that not a single bullet has been hit to put forward using the great manthra of non violence.

    Jai Anna

    B.V. Mohana Rao, B.E. Mech, PGDMM, MIE,

    Chief Executive Officer,

    Immediate Past President 2010-2011
    Rotary Bangalore Sadashivanagar
    Rotary International District 3190

    Secretary - Siddaganga Institute of Technology Alumni Association
    Bangalore Chapter - 22,000 Graduate Engineers World Wide since 1963

    No. 6, 1st Cross, III Block,
    Kumara Park West,
    Sheshadripuram Post,
    Bangalore Karnataka 560020 India.

    Tel./Fax:+91 80 2346 9828
    Ph: +91 80 3202 5545
    Mob: +91 98450 56408
    E-mail: taixila@gmail.com

  7. rajeshkangovi  on August 28th, 2011

    Very well written. Thanks for the same.

  8. Priya VK Singh  on August 28th, 2011

    The person who needs most a lesson in what a republic means is Laloo Yadav. It was incredible hearing him rave and rant against the PM and Team Anna for having engineered a discussion of some of the core elements of the JLP bill in the Parliament even when the LP bill was under examination by the Standing Committee.One was nearly led to believe that the SC is a body superior to the Parliament, and of course, the people!!

  9. Rakesh Prasad Chaturvedi  on August 29th, 2011

    Thanks very much. YES, there should be no doubt that People are Supreme. Parliament itself is constituted under the provisions of the Constitution, itself formed under the empowerment of WE the People.

    The constant refrain of ’superiority’ of the Parliament, more or less pitting this against the ‘people’, as though the nomination of some of us, as representatives -for a 5 year term- takes them into a different level of existence. Does the Constitution, which is actually Supreme- ordain that?
    While the senior, MPs, constantly Kept harping on this- unasked, since no body had any doubt- in fact every one knows that Laws ARE passed in Parliament, it was encouraging to see the young MPs, particularly like Jayant Chaudhary and Varun Gandhi, who powerfully put across a case for cognizance of the increasingly visible public opinion. I suppose you see things differently when you transit from a commoner to an MP.
    Pyada se Farji bhayo, tedho tedho jaye !! When a pawn becomes a Bishop on reaching the other end in Indian chess, the saying goes, his gait changes from a straight path to a diagonal- Tedha line.
    I am equally surprised to see the level of debate, admittedly the most disciplined in a long while. If only for this, Anna’s movement must be thanked.
    Whom or What did our Parliamentarians have on the opposite end?
    They had
    • A Product. Anti Corruption.
    • A Brand Ambassador. Anna. Brand Anna worked extremely well. And How.
    • Organization Skills. The team Anna, and the India Against Corruption. ( I am aghast BJP and RSS are being credited with the logistics. If they indeed were, then how come we don’t witness any of their, or any other political rally being as well, and as inspirationally organized/ participated in?).
    • Client Service. The response to ANY feed back to the organizers was immediate.
    • Participatory Leadership. At all stages, the supporters were aware of what was wanted of them.
    • Effective Communication System. Responsiveness of a very high order due to effective mobile/ net access.
    • Junior Leadership. Missing in our political parties.
    • Discipline. Anna insisted upon, and supporters responded to the concept of Non Violence as a Directive Principle. It was a refreshing and effective change from the Dadagiri and mobism methodology of our political parties. Despite much bigger crowds than what you see, there were no cases of eve teasing or misbehavior. I am talking of Delhi, the largest gathering. Things were even better in other towns.
    • Decentrallzation. Unlike the centralization in our political parties (Sonia’s absence left the Congress fairly rudderless- party men said that. I don’t want to believe that). Others are no better. When Anna was in Tihar, his followers were still very much participating in rallies across country/ NCR/ Country. This was different from the Baba Ram Dev syndrome. I am surprised The ‘Supreme’ GOI failed to read the dissimilarities.
    • Imagination. Out of the Box working. The corporate style, missing in our Politico Bureaucratic Sarkari set up was terribly wanting in imagination to deal with the people’s response, sticking to pre-independence methodologies of ’suppressing’ rather than ‘dealing’ with situations.
    With Warm Regards,
    Col RP Chaturvedi,
    A-35, Sector 36,
    Noida 201303.
    Mob: +919891279035
    E Mail ID: rpchaturvedi@gmail.com

  10. CK  on August 29th, 2011

    I guess the current peoples movement has reawakened the spirit of the people of India .If there is any way one can also help the cause through involvement or time do let me know .


  11. Nagaraja Magonahalli  on August 29th, 2011

    We elect our leaders to take up public issues in order to proceed unbiased keeping majority in view. But day by day these elected representatives assume authority much more than what is vested with them to gain cheap popularity and amass wealth by misusing power. we need to restrict persons not to stand for elections more than two consecutive terms. we need to press those who have blemishes in conduct to resign/step down even during the term.

  12. USM Bish  on August 29th, 2011

    Excellent Article. Point well driven to perfection …

    However, I would like to point out, that the Constitution of India was NOT written by Dr BR Ambedkar. He was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. As a matter of fact, the Congress had refused to support Ambedkar’s candidature for the upper house. The Muslim League leader Hussain Shaheed Suharwardi had nominated Dr Ambedkar and a tribal leader Joginder Nath Mandal as candidates for the Council of States from Bengal at the behest of the Muslim League. The Indian Constitution was framed or, put together by this Constituent Assembly of India, and not any individual per se. The Assembly had over 300 members, from the many communities of India. They included lawyers, Constitutional experts and leading politicians like; Jawarharlal Nehru and Dr Rajendra Prasad. Other names of repute were C Rajagopalachari, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Sandipkumar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Nalini Ranjan Ghosh, and Balwant Singh. Frank Anthony represented the Anglo-Indian community, and the Parsis were represented by HP Modi. Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Vijayalakshmi Pandit were important women members. Attributing this monumental piece of text to the credit of the Chairman alone, perhaps conveys an incorrect picture, and puts a major collaborative effort in the shadows.

  13. Hem  on August 29th, 2011

    Hello Sir,
    Nice Post.
    1) The best thing about all this is that people like me actually changed channles to see the behaviour of the politicians in the parliament. It looks like an extended joint family. They may have party differences but inside they have are all riding the same boat(just look at how they have cornered OM PURI). It is so sad.

    2)It also gave me an opportunity to read and watch how the government wakes up and tries to handle any situation. For me it looks like the ppl who handled the crisis were clueless and as you said away from reality of the angst of the people. There is definitely a GAP of their understanding of whats going on in India.

    3)They termed it as foreign hand…RSS….or whatever. My argument is even if its foreign hand or RSS or middle class…R THEY SPEAKING CRAP OR THEY TALKING FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE COUNTRY? Its points like these that leave me disillusioned and whethere I have voted for the right people.

    Its a sense of helplessness.

    4) Also I have noticed how these palimentarians try and gang up people. They are ganging up om puri and kiran bedi. They tried to gang up ANNA but could not find anything against him. Its a very sorry state of trends. INstead of listeneing and solving the issues which is staring in the face of the ocuntry they ant to break those who are trying to raise those points.

    5)Yes there is a pressure of staying within the system but sometimes you need to wake up and say this system does not work or it doies not allow me to work and I need to change it starting today …I want to be remembered as a HERO for INDIA.

  14. KP  on August 29th, 2011

    Well said Mr Rajeev. Appreciate the same is circulated to all MPs of both houses. Time for ruling elite must now shed their belief that people are still gullible. Anna made the public to taste the real power of the people. Ultimate success of the movement is when people treat the elected representatives and public servants as “public servants and not their rulers walking with gun trotting escorts reminding us of Kings & Queens”
    Col(Retd) K P Rao

  15. Anantha  on August 31st, 2011

    Dear Mr. Rajeev,

    Hats off to you. You have stood on the ground against all odds. Common people had thought no one left to take care of. But few people like you, Anna and his team members made huge difference.

    Now time has come where people needs to be involved directly in law making process(see how few so called ministers have rejected sports bill). I request you to hold a open meeting with other MPs of B’lore( else only yourself) to discuss Jan Lokpal and related issues with people. This meeting can be by invitation or open. Iam not sure why MPs across India are not speaking to its subjects. So that MPs get a feel of people and accordingly they can make suggestions to sub-committe.

    I request you to voice against motion against people like Ompuri and Kiran Bedi. Critisim is not one way traffic. This motion seems to be violative of fundamental rights of citizens.

    Well done. Carry one good work.

    -Anantha Rao

  16. Dr Kuntal  on August 31st, 2011

    Its required now that there is strict Guidelines on which MPs should behave in parliament.
    -electronic attendance system,scratch once in mornin nd thn at 6 pm,only after doin ths thy Get their daily allowance nd salary
    -any MP whose attendance is less than 80 percent is thrown out nd cant contest any election in entire life
    -any MP who throws mic,chairs,rushes to speaker or any such act,throw MP out of parliament nd cant contest any election.
    -No MP can interupt any MP while he is speakin on some issue.
    -Before any session of parliament it should be written on website on which day which bill will be discussed on which day.

  17. Col. Amar Hooda, Retd  on September 1st, 2011

    Two great persons, Mahatma Gandhi & Dr Balasahib Ambedkar, must be turning in their graves or must be feeling the terrible heat of ‘Hell’ inspite being deserved occupants of ‘Haven’. Mahatma for his Atma being shredded into thousand irretrievable pieces as he painfully sees the irony that the loot which British took from India for 150 years, can be put to shame by the loot of India by his own congress/countrymen and deposited in foreign banks when his almost 40% ‘we the people’ are deprived of two square meals a day. Legacy of ‘his congress committed to provide relief to ‘We the People’ from poverty & pain and at least try to wipe their tears, seems itself wiped out and buried. Something has gone very wary with congress.
    Dr Ambedkar for hijacking & shredding the very essence of his ‘We the People Constitution’ by the shameful conduct of our so called political masters (ashamed to be named public servants) to loot and allow their hunch people to loot with impunity. These hijackers holding the Constitution hostage, now are trying to hide behind it calling ‘we the people’ movement not anti-corruption but anti-constitution even subversive. They never had any qualms in amending the same sacrosanct constitution hundred times over when it suited them.
    Salute and hearty congrats to Shri Anna Hazare, the great crusader who broke open the door of zealously guarded citadel, the fort of corrupt empire. Against heavy odds, turned the movement from impossible to unstoppable. Battle has been won. To realize Anna’s dream, our dream, ‘we the people’ must unite in order to win this historic war…….
    A humble submission to the P.M.
    There comes a time when the pain of continuing exceeds the pain of stopping. At that moment, a threshold is crossed. What seemed unthinkable becomes thinkable.
    Jai Hind.

  18. Col. Amar Hooda, Retd  on September 1st, 2011

    I have no objection to any moderation provided the very essence is kept intact

  19. Varatharaajan. R  on September 14th, 2011

    Our country has been a witness to the many incidents leading to subversion and complete erosion of social ethics and democratic principles by political activists. In my opinion we should have stringent provisions for selection of candidates eligible to contest elections. The negative approach of our present system trying to eliminate the criminals is a failure. The fact that we have elected about 30 hardcore criminals to the Parliament provides ample proof for this.

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