Let the Electoral System go Prime Ministerial
Dr Vijay Deo, Pune
The 2014 electoral battle should prove itself to be the turning point in Indian democracy. The main opposition formation led by BJP have declared Narenda Modi as PM candidate. After the rout in Assembly elections Congress is seriously mulling over declaring its nominee . The Third Front, if formed will have to come out with its Prime Ministerial leader. Thus, election 2014 is increasingly becoming a triangular fight between the three candidates. How successful the Third Front will depend upon the changing political scenario. However, presently one can visualise a tossup between Narendra Modi led NDA and Rahul Gandhi led UPA. If the issue of secular v/s non-secular parties (and functions comes to the front) the Third Front partners might support the Congress at the battle end situation that will depend on the post-elections number game. If not, the NDA consisting of BJP, Shivsena and Akali Dal only would come to power.
The statistics and arithmetics of the 16th Lokhsabha will be clear after the elections are over. This goes without saying. But, it is certain that the magic figure of 280 which is slightly less than 2/3 majority will be reached this time either by the NDA or by the UPA. The Third Front will play a role of a balancer, putting weight on either side. This is because the formation of the front has been in the doldrums. Still there is another possibility, a Third Front Government supported from outside by the Congress and the Congress will extend its support to the front in order to keep the NDA out. This could either be the other way round i.e. few partners of the front may extend their support to the NDA led by Modi. If they get their share in the power. But, either of this development will not be making any turning point in our Parliamentary, Council of ministerial or Prime Ministerial system. The turning point as one could expect is possible only if Modi led NDA; Rahul led UPA or Mulayam Singh or Sharad Pawar led Third Front give a triangular fight for the Prime Ministership. Who will be the Prime Minister the end of the battle’ will be a pertinent question in this elections.
One can expect certain good advantages for our deteriorating democracy in its parliamentary, cabinet type and Prime Ministerial nature.
Our parliamentary system has shifted from majority rule to minorities misrule. From council of ministerial system led by the Prime Minister appointed by the President to aid and advice him in the execution of his functions to unstable weak and corrupt political system. The Prime Minister today is neither “Primus inter pares” (first among equals) nor captain of cabinet-ship. He is far away from a de facto authority in the system.
If we really want to reform our parliamentary system, then we really should restore our Prime Minister to his true position. The country needs such a restoration. And, this is expected to happen in 2014 electoral battle. The three Prime Ministerial candidates Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and the possible candidate of the Third Front will play an extremely important role to make the system Prime Ministeral.
This time, the wise voters will have to look forward to the Prime Ministerial candidates first before they go to the polling booths. If they have Modi in their mind they must vote for BJP led NDA candidates to the Lok Sabha. If they have Rahul Gandhi in their mind they will have to vote for the Congress led UPA. I hope our voters have a necessary political wisdom to bring the required change; for they had exhibited their wisdom when they had defeated the Indian National Congress led by the most powerful leader like Smt Indira Gandhi in 1977 elections.
The Coalition Dharma was definitely a limited success. It helped emergence of bi-coalition system, if not a formidable bi-party system which was supposed to be essential for parliamentary Democracy. Ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee alone could lead the coalition Dharma, a most difficult task! The coalition experiment during last few decades has moved Indian politics far away from national leadership to regional and sub-regional feudalism. The unwarranted for change has brought instability, corruption in general has become rempant. The Prime Minister’s office has become a poor show. Unity and integrity of the nation is endangered. The chances of India becoming great power by 2020 are bleak. The internal and external security of the country is threatened. There is hardly any considerable change in the quality of life of the common man. Then what about the solemn resolutions of our constitutional objectives? What is happening to our sovereignty, democracy, socialism, secularism and republicanism?
A turning point is an expected must. Let it go. Let the political system go Prime Ministerial. Let it be Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. Voters must vote the Lok Sabha candidates keeping in mind the Prime Ministerial candidate supported by a strong majority to lead the council of ministers as the real “Primus – inter pares”. Let our written, rigid constitution have a convention of political parties declaring their Prime Ministerial candidates atleast one year before the Lok Sabha Elections.
This convention has nothing to do with the nature and process of presidential elections in the US as some people fear. We need not make any amendment to the constitution for this change. This time Narendra Modi might get elected to be the Prime Minister, and next time somebody else will have the opportunity. After all, our’s is a democracy which has no alternative. The only need is to make it strong under a strong Prime Minister.
A half century after political independence from West, Asian economies are re-emerging. In terms of GDP, China is expected to be the front runner by 2040, leaving the US far behind. India is projected to overtake China later this century. The wheel is turning full circle. India and China’s contribution to the world GDP went from a high of 24.5 per cent and 33 per cent respectively (in 1750) to a low of 1.7 per cent and 6.2 per cent, as their economies shattered under industrial revolution-fuelled imperialism. Balance is only now being restored.
India and China enjoy a huge demographic advantage, with a population of 3.6 billion, nearly half that of the world. India enjoys the demographic dividend of a largely young population, unlike China. In the West, the dependency ratio is increasing, while it has reduced considerably in India in the last few decades, from 81 in 1964 to 55 in 2010. China’s one child policy of China has increased its dependency ratio.
India boasts a billion people under 45 years of age, which is 75 per cent of the total population. China, by comparison, has 900 million people below 45. This trend is projected to continue. By 2020, the average age in India will be 29, in Chinese 37 and in Japan, 48.
India’s development challenges will thus be radically different from those of the developed world. Employment, food security, education, health and proper utilisation of resources will have to be addressed keeping this segment in view. For instance, our education system, which could have been our key strength and a millennial game changer, does not focus on skill development and employability. The spending on education has increased by more than 350 per cent between 1999 and 2009, but the results are not proportional to the expenditure. Even though 12.8 million people join the job market every year, only 2 per cent of the total workforce in India undergoes skills training. According to the recent survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the employment rate in India dropped to 0.83 per cent in the period 2004-05 to 2009-10, while it was 2.66 per cent in the period 1999-2000 to 2004-05. As of January, 2012, the total number of unemployed people in India was 10.8 million.
First-time voters in 2014 are estimated to be around 15 crores (nearly 20 per cent of total voters). Another 30 per cent of the electorate is below 35 year of age. The majority of this youth population in the age group of 18-35 are educated. The new generation is vocal, confident, questioning and dynamic. The demographic dividend coupled with technology penetration has created a new dynamic. India’s youth now participating in a global market and therefore, the nation cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world in terms of employment, development, governance, economic progress and national security. The youth are initiating and participating in the debate on these issues and are determined to shape the outcome of the 2014 general elections.
Sensitive to pan-Indian issues like price rise, corruption, internal security and gender equity, this generation’s approach is participative. They are not inclined to be mute spectators. Thus, after 9 years of UPA rule, they are looking for change, for new leadership that can deliver. Narendra Modi’s performance as Chief Minister of Gujarat has convinced many that he is a doer, someone who understands and encourages their aspirations and will help realise their goals – both national and individual. Small wonder he has emerged as an icon for young India.