Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Somewhere, the shade of Indira Gandhi is smiling...

Sharad Joshi, agrarian leader, and the closest thing to a real liberal politician India has got, recently made a demand in Parliament that I am surprised is not made more frequently and vociferously: that the requirement of Representation of People Act that requires candidates for election to any political office swear, among other things, to be socialists. The Indian Express reports:
An association of people not subscribing to socialism had to swear allegiance to the philosophy to get themselves registered as a political party and get an election symbol, he said.
As expected, the Children of Satan Congress Party have opposed this move.

Disagreeing with Joshi’s plea that socialism has lost its relevance and, therefore, should be dropped from the Constitution, Congress members Moolchand Meena, Raashid Alvi, E.M.S. Natchiappan and Jayaram Ramesh said spirit of the Constitution had been democracy, socialism and secularism which was not fully understood by Joshi. (H/t for both links: Madman)

Of course, they are, as always, totally wrong. The declaration that India is a socialist republic, and the requirement of candidates to uphold the said socialism must go, not because socialism is no longer relevant (even though it is), but because this clause totally limits the ability of the Indian people to elect to public office people whom they believe will represent them. It is impossible, under the current state of affairs, for anyone who is opposed to socialism to stand for office without lying under oath. Denying the people of India the right to elect people opposed to socialism is quite undemocratic, IMO. That is the real issue here.



Blogger well_whatevr said...

It is such a token issue. Who cares? The two most important persons in the present goverment - Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh - are staunch supporters of the free-market. That is all that matters.

I think the Congress party should always support the politically-correct ideal of Socialism. Politics in India is so oppurtunistic, they'd get attacked shamelessly if they don't.

It'll be a long time before any major political party will have the political capital to make such a token change in Constituition. Not gonna happen in the near future.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Its not a token issue. Dr. Singh and Chidambaram have always had a pro-free market, laissez-faire stance. The Rao government in 1991 empowered them to execute crucial reforms. This was an opportunity (and a balance of payments crisis) which they capitalized upon.

This undemocratic law has prevented several parties and politicians who might have allowed people such as Singh and Chidambaram to follow their wisdom in execution.

Today, the Communist Party restricts the duo from privatization, pro-US deals and lower taxes. In private interviews, both Singh and Chidambaram advocate stronger property rights. But these issues are killed in Parliament by Congress and the CPI.

Here's the other point: If everyone's a socialist, then why have different parties? We aren't debating ideologies here, or issues.

6:06 PM  

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