Systemic Response to the spectre of Hung assemblies / Parliament
The conundrum in Delhi after it has thrown up a hung verdict and the impediment it is posing in government formation is a challenge to Indian democracy, which our founding fathers had not envisaged. They had never envisaged the following:
- Indian Political firmament would get so fractured that no party might come anywhere close (individually) to the half-way mark
- Indian political discourse would get so vitiated by disingenuous stances on “secularism” and “Holier-than-thou” cults), that it would be difficult to get parties to support each other and agree to work together
The childish conditionalities being put up by Arvind Kejriwal (I detest the leftist-anarchist agenda of AAP, but that’s another story), and the cynical posturing behind Congress’ offer of support, do not give confidence on the longevity of any government in Delhi, even if it were to somehow get formed.
It is clear that we need to think out of the box for the challenge that this new era of uncertainty and coalition politics imposes on Indian democracy.
We need to plan for a situation where no party or pre-poll alliance gets a majority and there is uncertainty over government formation.
I have the following suggestions to make on this:
- Only pre-poll alliances should be considered as a barometer of stability while deciding whether a government can be formed or not
- Even if some post-poll alliances are struck, no party, repeat, no party should be allowed to support a government from the outside. You are either in the alliance and part of the government, or you are in opposition, you cannot be a political and opportunistic “Trishanku”.
- If an alliance is unable to form a government because it does not have the numbers, then instead of giving time for horse-trading, a “remediation mandate” should be effected immediately
- The largest and the second largest (only these two) parties should be invited to contest a re-poll. All those seats where the largest party won, and the second largest party was runner-up, and vice versa, will be put up for a re-poll (no change in candidates also allowed). The people of those constituencies will be asked to vote once again for any of the two candidates who were winner and runner-up.
- The winners of this repoll would be declared as elected LS members and in doing this, the deadlock in the assembly (or the parliament, as the case may be) would be resolved.
- In the absolute rare event that the outcome of this also results in a deadlock, then the assembly (or parliament) should be dismissed and complete repolls ordered.
The upside of an approach like this is that it will force the people to vote for a stable government (if that is what they want). If they do not want this, then a fresh mandate should be called for, to know the “will of the people”.
What is clear is that this kind of cynical politics and horse-trading cannot be allowed any more in India.