No representation without election

The UPA-Left “joint-mechanism” on the nuclear deal is not merely an affront to the constitution. It is a risk to national security.

The UPA government has struck a political compromise on the India-US nuclear agreement by inflicting yet another “joint mechanism” on the nation. This time the “joint mechanism” consists of a committee comprising of representatives from the Congress Party and the Communist Parties and will consider various aspects of the deal.

It’s easy to see this as a clever way to defuse a political crisis that had engulfed the UPA government. It may also be possible to ignore the precedent it sets—undermining the constitutional authority of the Cabinet (and collective responsibility) on such matters. If the Congress Party president wields greater power than the prime minister, why not allow this “joint mechanism” to wield more power than the cabinet committee on security?

But its proposed composition is an immediate cause for worry. The Communists have already said that its representatives will be Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, A B Bardhan, D Raja, Abani Roy and Debabrata Biswas—members of the Politburo and suchlike. But as The Rational Fool pointed out in an email, two of these gentlemen are not even members of parliament.

Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan may be office-bearers of two different flavours of the Communist Party, but elected representatives they are not. They’ve not taken any oath of secrecy.

There appears to be a case for public interest litigation here: on two counts. First, the UPA government may not be within constitutional bounds to set up such a committee in the first place. Second, even if it does, the nomination of unelected, nay defeated politicians, to a committee that looks at vital national security issues—which consists of cabinet members—is highly dubious. The “joint mechanism” ought to be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Update: The committee has been announced. It has 15 members. Comrade Karat is among them.

14 thoughts on “No representation without election”

  1. Nitin,

    I don’t think it is such a bad idea. Consider the facts

    1. Comrades will continue to armtwist UPA to push their (and that of their fatherland) agenda
    2. Manmohan being wimp and Sonia Gandhi being more interested in her “baba” will continue to capitulate to remain in power.
    3. B.J.P. will continue to dig its own grave.

    Now if our objective is to build an effective opposition to comrades, then it is better if arm twisting is being done in full public view, instead of usual dingy backrooms in Delhi.

    Ofcourse if law prohibts (I dont know about the relevant law )the inclusion of unelected then it is a different matter altogether.

  2. Nitin,

    Are you aware of any NGO or non-profit organization whom we could approach for filing a PIL challenging the formation and powers of this joint mechanism? You have correctly pointed out the overriding reach of the committee that even MPs didn’t have access to. The authority of constitution has been challenged and if opposition fails to rise to the occasion, we, as a democracy, need to find a voice representing the wide populace in meeting the challenge. BJP is pathetically ignoring the call of the nation to challenge this committee and succumbing to expediency.

  3. Taking the matter to judiciary may bring stay on committee, which I think serves the purpose of UPA. Left and congress will be happy to sit on stay. I think it will be more interesting to see how Left-congress resolves this.

  4. The issue at stake is more than politics. It’s one of the government’s scant regard for institutions.


    In the meanwhile our comrades are practicing what htey are best at – hypocrisy.

    Air-conditioned Volvos, Kinley water… Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
    Posted online: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 at 0000 hrs from the Indian Express…
    Kolkata, September 4 : Maybe some things are unavoidable even for anti-imperialist movements in times of globalisation. Armed with cartons of Kinley, the mineral water from Coca-Cola, comrades of West Bengal began their journey to Vishakhapatanam, headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, in air-conditioned Volvo buses.

    As many as 81 comrades from Left parties of various shades began their long march against the joint naval exercise…

    Read and distribute…

    The commies have never been one to practice what they preach. It is socialism for the masses and capitalism for the struggling leadership. The cost this time a piffling Rs.1.25 lac per bus. And in any case with Commie rags (oops newspapers) openly in the business of cash for coverage what is a pittance to hire buses!

  6. Nitin, I am not sure what the issue is? Why is unconstitutional to consult with your collation partner? As PM, Manmohan is free to pass the bill into the parliament anytime. He just may not survive politically. CCS already passed it, so did the full cabinet. Commies are supporting the govt. is from outside. Their only lever is political. This has nothing to do with constitution or law and everything to do with politics.

    SC will be out of its league to interfere with politics – it doesn’t matter if it’s national security or SEZs or trade issues. It’s up to commies to send in their leaders, elected or not – just like Congress I’s boss has no stake in executive branch but carries lot more weight than PM.

    There is no rationality for PILs. BJP is mum because it has no role in UPA’s politics. It’s up to Manmohan how much he wants to capitulate. If the deal goes down because of commies, it will be Manmohan’s fault.

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