Call for fresh elections?

M.L. Sondhi

The Economic Times, April 20, 1999

At the threshold of the new millennium, we can say with confidence that the future of our country is assured if we continue to remember that the people are the ultimate source of the strength of our democracy.  The realities, concepts and interests of those taking part in the complex political interactions of our political agenda will invite disaster and defeat if we shrink back from fresh elections.  The collapse of the Soviet Union and the current stresses and strains in the Chinese political system, and the collapse of dictatorial and authoritarian governments all over the world point to a very important lesson:  ‘India cannot afford insular politics; we have always to ensure that we are part of the global community of democratic nations.”

There are three reasons why elections should be held a soon as possible:

First, the AIADMK, which was a pre-poll ally of the BJP has switched sides. And the alternative government cannot be formed without the AIADMK.  This defection of the AIADMK is immoral and unethical.  In fact, it is not legitimate without the people’s verdict.  Therefore, the people should be asked as soon as possible whether they approve of the AIADMK’s action.

Second, for achieving some sort of stability, the Congress party is threatening to engineer splits from the allied parties of the BJP.  If successful, this attempt will amount to insulting the people’s mandate of 1998.  National affairs have their own dynamics but it is important that the creative part of politics should be directed to finding new, long lasting and viable norms and rules.  The people of India must intervene through fresh elections to give their verdict on those who are working on ill-conceived political schemes which may pave the way to the political degeneration of the country.

Thirdly, even otherwise the newly created front that defeated the Vajpayee government is full of too many contradictions to give a stable alternative: AIDMK, TMC, Laloo’s party, Mulayam’s party.  The best evidence of the unworkability of this new arrangement is clear from a perusal of the records of the recent debate in Parliament.  The best way out of the impasse is to go back to the people.

Parties need empowerment to maintain and reach agreements but it is equally true that every time we have a fractured mandate, political formations which are devoid of any structural framework and which do not have a ‘life beyond their leaders’ are shown up for their negative roles which are detrimental to basic national interests.  The political wisdom of the Indian people is being strengthened by a process which eliminates archaic arrangements dominated by feudal outlook, caste mechanisms, and religious obscurantism.  This is a ‘learning process’ which can also be regarded a human resource development.  In spite of ‘negative stereotypes’ and ‘enemy images’ there is every hope that the electoral process encourages the polity to develop solutions that ‘integrate’ separate perspectives.  It cannot be denied that in spite of initial difficulties, the Vajpayee government got down to identifying common goals and working together to achieve them, and most of the allies broadened their political perspectives.  The ‘instability’ of the Vajpayee government when it was pulled down was artificially manufactured and was by no means systemic. I would therefore argue that there is every likelihood that fresh elections will produce momentum towards ‘agreement’ and ‘problem-solving’.  Avoiding elections and persisting in politics of manoeuvre will produce a vicious cycle of action and reaction leading to severe instability.
<< Back