Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Naming the Chief Minister of Punjab

An Open Letter of an AAM AADMI – Naming the Chief Minister of Punjab

January 16, 2017

Dear Voters of Punjab,
India is a parliamentary democracy. It means power lies with the people through their elected representatives in the parliament or the legislature. The principle of ‘one vote one value’ has been adopted. At the same time, India professes to be a secular country. This is
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar being sworn as Minister of Law
the constitutional arrangement made for the polity of India. The father of the Indian constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, warned in the Constituent Assembly that the political democracy established by us would have no meaning if this political democracy was not transformed into economic and social democracy. It was also made clear by Dr. Ambedkar that democracy would not come about without establishing a casteless society.

With this background, let us take up the issue of naming the next Chief Minister of Punjab, the subject which is rife in the political circles in the run up to the elections scheduled next month. As per the parliamentary democratic process, the leader of the majority party in the legislature shall be appointed as the CM of the state. There is no ambiguity in this.  The difficulty starts when political parties and its leaders try to bypass the procedure and introduce new rules in the game. I think it shall be stopped forthwith not only in the states but also at the centre for the post of Prime Minister. This extraneous element tends to create unnecessary confusion in the minds of ordinary voters.

The ongoing discussion is leading to avoidable acrimony whether Arvind Kejriwal should be made the CM of Punjab? It is a mindless debate. Why don’t we leave it to the legislative group of the party to decide as to who should lead them when it comes to formation of government? The same is true for other parties. Why are the people being made to bear this unnecessary procedural burden before the parties reach the stage of formation of government? Why Parkash Singh Badal of Akali Dal and Captain Amrinder Singh of the Congress should bother about this? Of course, the government will be formed in terms of the constitutional stipulations and democratic norms to satisfy the political aspects of the exercise.

Now let us come to the economic, social and moral aspects of the exercise in the light of our secular credentials. I think, in spite of the warnings of our fore fathers, no one is paying any attention to these aspects. Punjab’s demographic position is simple with almost equal share of Hindus and Sikhs. Further, going by the caste divide, dalits of both Hindu and Sikh extraction, make more than 32% of the population. It is a matter of gratification that right from independence in 1947, there have been Hindu CMs (Gopi Chand Bhargav and Comrade Ram Kishan) and Sikh CMs, both Jatts and Non-Jatts. But now, when our secular fabric should be rather robust, there is an underlying current that CM should be a Jatt only. Why the political parties, the political players, the academics and intelligentsia at large are not discussing this paradigm? In a democratic system, to put it crudely, numbers count.  Dalits being 32% of the population are not in the reckoning when it comes to the coveted position of CM. Why is it so? Are we not interested in empowering the under privileged and making them equal partners in the polity and society? Why our political class is blissfully ignorant of this aspect of democracy? Political morality is equally important to make our polity strong and vibrant. Dalits should think of these aspects and assert themselves to claim and have their due share and space in the power structures.

The question who would become the CM is not important but who should be the CM is important. Let us sit and think as to how the biggest democracy is transformed into a functional and good democracy to realize the lofty ideals and aspirations of our struggle and ‘Tryst with destiny’.
With regards,
Yours truly,
(Ramesh Chander)
Ambassador – IFS (Retired)
Telephone: 09988510940

It was a pleasure for me and my wife Vidya to host two eminent Ambedkarite scholars, Dr. Kshipra Uke and Dr. Shiv Shankar Das
for a luncheon meeting at our small flat in Jalandhar on January 16. The purpose of the meeting was to make contact and interact with dalit intelligentsia in and around Jalandhar with a view to discuss their project of the revival of Training School for Entrance to Politics founded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in July, 1956. I shall write about this separately.

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