Possibility of an Experiment in Rajasthan
Congress Party’s step of creating Legislative Council in Rajasthan can be seen as promising accommodation of possible rebel candidates in losing State of Rajasthan. But if the intention is pragmatic or true administrative, it should think of making Legislative Council as Panchayat Sabha of State, representing Panchayati Raj, like Rajya Sabha resenting States.
After the proposal of establishing Legislative Council in Rajasthan was moved by Congress Government at State and supported by the UPA Government at Centre, many sections of the society and media appropriately regarded it as a political move, just before elections. So many valid statistics were given how the public money is wasted through discussion on trivial issues, walk outs and daily soap opera of disturbance during the session. The outcome of the discussion in the legislative houses is pre-determined and mostly viewed as another form of entertainment. It is a pity that even the law-making apex bodies are losing their impression and some rebel politicians label it as composition of terrorist, rapists and anti-social elements.
Therefore, the move to establish Legislative Council can be seen as another attempt by the Congress Party to woo voters of Rajasthan in line with Food Security Bill and Direct Cash Transfer Schemes. Another reason may be to control the rebellion within the party and making Legislative Council as “Rehabilitation House” for the disgruntled politicians.
Therefore, there are a serious doubts about the intention behind the resolution passed in the State Legislative Assembly in April 2012 and now introducing it as a bill in Parliament in August 2013. The political churning against Congress was very much there before April 2012 and now it is realised at the Centre.
Even in case of assuming that UPA Government has introduced the Bill without any immediate political benefits, it should be opposed on four counts—anti popular sentiments, possibility of increasing nepotism and patronage in politics, wastage of public money because of possibility of dysfunctional chamber and not a reformed new body, which can throw some new light in our constitutional system.
Make the Legislative Councils “Panchayat Sabha”
With the introduction of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in 1992, Rural and Urban local self Governments were accorded with the Constitutional status. Yet, there is considerable ambiguity about the role the Panchayats have to play in the overall governance system of the country. In a weak compliance to the amendment, the States have half heartedly enacted Panchayati Raj Acts and they are still not willing to make these bodies real unit of governance at local level.
For the purpose of resolving these anomalies, there have many suggestions given by the scholars and civil society in these years. One of the suggestions is very relevant in case of constituting Legislative Council is that all members of the Council should be elected by the representatives of rural and urban local self-governance bodies. The main purpose is to ensure the representation of Panchayati Raj system at State Legislature level and, consequently, the Legislative Council should be made Panchayat Sabha as Rajya Sabha represents the States at the central level.
Once such a Council is elected by these representatives, it will protect the interests of Panchayati Raj Institutions/ Urban Local Bodies. In the existing system, only one-third members of Legislative Council are elected by members of local bodies such as corporations, municipalities and Zila Parishads.
Congress Party in power can think to introduce a special Constitutional Amendment to create Legislative Council separately for Rajasthan with new provisions of election and making new structure representing local bodies in the true sense. To start with, the Parliament by amending the Constitution can provide at least the choice for the State to choose existing system or new system of election by local bodies while constituting Legislative Council. It should start with Rajasthan and if it is accepted by all political parties and States, it should be made universal for all States. If the Party in power is well intended for creating Legislative Council and strengthening Panchayati Raj systems, it is an opportunity to get balance between these two tasks. Perhaps Rajasthan is the best place to start with as it is the same state where on October 2, 1959, first Panchayati Raj system was created in Nagaur district.