Are Regional Parties Constitutional in India?
K S Venkataraman
How can a person belonging to a regional organization, which does not relate itself positively with all the Indian citizens (of all states) can be given a portfolio in central government and asked to take care of all Indians? All these regional parties can be considered only ‘pressure groups’ and not political parties.
Having grown like parasites at the cost of myopic ‘national parties’ in India, and after strengthening their bases in their states, now the parochial regional parties want to eliminate the last vestiges of unity and nationalism by forming a ‘Federal Front’!
A friend of mine, Ms. Meenakshi Ananthkrishnan of Mumbai, recently wrote in a message:
Maharana Pratap, an epitome of bravery, courage, patriotism and dedication. Faisal Khan, an epitome of sweetness, sensitivity, hard work and sincerity together are giving me a lot of inspiration to learn. The only grudge this inspiration is coming extrinsically. How I wish all the tears I shed and all the ideas I think transform into strength and I jump into the fire of ambition to fulfill my dream of Akhand Bharat, India of my dreams. It's said if we wish for something with all our strength, the entire universe conspires to make it true. So, today, I wish not only me but the strength of all my friends come together in giving me the strength, dedication and single-focused determination to fulfill my dream.
I wrote to her and through her to the Indian Youth in general: “It is very good, Meenakshi Ananthkrishnan. It is this patriotic spirit of the youngsters that has kept our country alive and kicking, in spite of numerous aggressive waves of aliens and the unfortunate, conspiratorial alliances they were able to forge with the black sheep among the insiders. It is what keeps our hopes alive and enables persons like not to give up yet. … I too wish and pray that you and your friends will be blessed with the strength, dedication, and single-focused determination you aspire for; and be enabled to bring about the positive changes that are urgently needed by our motherland. But for that we should first of all save the Unity and Democracy in India.”
Shady Trend of Post-Independence Politics in India
Now there may not be as many direct foreign invasions; but the black sheep section is undoubtedly controlling the political and administrative systems and structures. Widespread corruption and bad governance are the obvious results, easy for all to see.
The post-independence politicians have deliberately divided Indian citizens. In the name of federalism now they have taken up a dangerous plan of making regionalism dominant in the minds of the people and perpetuating the divisions already established in the name of religion, caste, language etc.
The Emergence of Regional Politics sans Nationalism
The linguistic reorganization of states in 1950s was a bad beginning. Afterwards using language as a political weapon to divide the Indian citizens has become very common among the politicians. When MGR formed a party, the ruling party fostered a serious anti-Malayalee feeling in Tamil Nadu for a few years. Luckily that party was ousted and could not sustain that inimical feeling among the people.
The thoughtless attempts to make Hindi the national language of India has succeeded only in creating an aversion in the minds of the non-Hindi speaking people. Several examples may be added but I only want to make the point clear here.
During the British rule, there were groups which did not support the Independence struggle of the Congress party and were engaged in businesses that were against the principles of the Congress like prohibition, avoiding the use of foreign goods etc. After Independence these people entered Congress and other national parties; and gradually gained control. In due course they separated from the mother organization and formed state / region level parties incorporating the words like Congress, Janata etc.
The so-called national parties have foolishly sold themselves and the rich patriotic traditions inherited by them out, in their attempt to somehow safeguard their hold in the central government; and at present they are at the mercy of regional pressure group leaders. There is not a single national level leader who is affectionately remembered by the people everywhere in the country! There is not a single national party which can boldly declare that they would form Indian government on their own!
Argument against the Regional Parties
India is a single sovereign nation; one political entity. The concept of national sovereignty is not divisible. The states are there not to function like separate countries. Indian Constitution has not envisaged a loose confederation. That is why states can be formed or altered by the central government at will.
The emergence of regional parties has gradually given room for attaching undue importance to the term federation in India. They are teaching the people of their states to hate the people of the rest of India.
The youth are dreaming of Akhand Bharat; right under their nose the existing truncated Bharat is getting fragmented.
For example, an US citizen would say, “I am an American. I live in Texas State.” In Tamil Nadu most of the people have been brainwashed to say, “I am a Tamilian first; then only I am an Indian.” It is not much different in any other state.
The apathy and lethargy of the people have allowed many institutions to come into being, grow and flourish, which are verily cancer to the unity and democracy in India. Most dangerous of them are the so-called regional political parties, which are unconstitutional.
How can a person belonging to a regional organization, which does not relate itself positively with all the Indian citizens (of all states) can be given a portfolio in central government and asked to take care of all Indians? All these regional parties can be considered only ‘pressure groups’ and not political parties. But they are threatening to become fait accompli unless we act quickly and the judiciary boldly interferes.
Only the persons and institutions committed to the welfare and development of all the Indian citizens can be entrusted with the responsibility of governance, not only in the central government but also in any individual state.
How can a person admittedly concerned only with the development of Dravidians be entrusted with the responsibility of governance in any state or center? Leave alone their own arbitrary and mischievous interpretation of the term Dravidians. Similar examples may be given from other areas of India also.
Simply because the national parties in India lost their direct contact with the people of India due to their wrong policies and selfish objectives, they allowed the regional parties to emerge. Now, the national parties have actually lost their ‘national’ tags and have been reduced to the position of pathetic dependents on the regional pressure groups!
The ‘Federal Front’ being proposed by some of the regional ‘parties’ is nothing but an attempt to eliminate the last vestiges of nationalism from the body politic in India.
In these modern days where is the need for smaller states if there is a real national feeling among the people? While the world is becoming a global village, India is returning to the good old days of hundreds of petty rajas! And this happens in the name of democracy!
The aggressive advocates of separate states are talking as though they belong to separate countries!
The social crusader Anna Hazare has emphasized:1 “But my view is that in the Indian Constitution there is no scope for political parties to fight elections as a group. I feel that people must contest as individuals and then the majority of those elected should come together to govern.”
Anna Hazare has maintained that all the political parties are unconstitutional. He has said:2 “Indian Constitution has no mention of political parties and hence the existence of all parties is anti-constitutional. I make no difference between Congress, BJP and AAP.”
In last time of his life Mahatma imagined the misuse of ‘Congress’ name after his death. Gandhi’s last wish was to abolish the ‘Congress’.3
Actually the political parties are only like intermediaries between the people and their Government. The stand of Anna Hazare is very sensible. The contribution of the political parties to improve the standard of political administration in India has been next to nothing. Their disservice by way of dividing the Indian citizens on the lines of religion, castes, language, region and class has far outweighed whatever little they did to the people; they have only brought down the standard and efficiency of governance by undue interferences and corruption. So What Anna Hazare has said is very much justifiable.
But in addition to all these general reasons against all the political parties, the so called regional political parties are obviously unconstitutional because they are a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, which is the be-all and end-all of our constitution. So the first step should be to remove them completely from the political scene of India.
What We Ought to Do?
The next year (2014) general elections may be the last chance for the Indian citizens to save the country from the corrupt and criminal politicians; and make good governance a reality in our motherland. Preserving and promoting the spirit of nationalism is the first step to achieve this. Those individuals and institutions, who do not identify themselves with the One Nation that is India, should be thrown out of the political system altogether.
The diversity of culture and religion in India is actually a gift to us. It should only lead to better creativity, happiness and development. But the regional parties, which are in reality only pressure groups, have already succeeded to exploit this diversity to divide the Indian citizens and weaken the central government.
The National sovereignty cannot be shared by many states. States are administrative divisions and cannot claim sovereignty. The division of functions has been elaborately given in the constitution only for the sake of efficiency; they do not imply partial abdication by the Indian national government. No party can be allowed to function in India only with regional identity, as it is certainly leading to disunity among the Indian citizens.
These ‘parties’ are only facilitating the locally influential politicians to misguide the mass and spearhead violent agitations for division of existing states just to carve out empires for them, without any interest in nation-building.
The constitutional validity of the regional parties is flimsy and doubtful. If they are not against the words of the constitution, they are definitely against the spirit of the constitution that describes India as a single nation.
The constitutional and other legal provisions relating to the mushrooming regional political parties need to be critically examined because on the face of it they are not in conformity with the basic requirements of national unity and integrity. If necessary our constitution should be amended suitably allowing only nationalistic parties in the political system.
2. 2. Times of India, Hyderabad, November 19, 2013
3. 3. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-more-about-jayalalithaa-s-trump-the-collected-works-of-mahatma-gandhi-1818218