Lok Sabha-2014 / -2019 were entirely Presidential form of general elections with one politician, tallest of the entire lot, looming large over the entire process. It will be an utter calumny if a loud-mouthed Congressman (Leftists are not even worth talking about) alleges that it has been a BJP / RSS agenda to impose Presidential form of governance over the country. If we glance at Lok Sabha elections held in 1952 to 1984, all over-shadowed by just one personality, that too from just one dynasty, can possibly be very well declared as Presidential form of elections what to speak of Presidential form of governance !! Not only the country had been innately comfortable with the concept of Presidential form of governance throughout its history, first in the form of royal clans till 1947 then the sham of Parliamentary democracy run by an ‘autocrat-ish’ politician of the day during post-1947 era but also Presidential form of elections too. Constitutional niceties apart, if we as a nation are so much inclined towards personality-cult oriented form of governance at a psychological level, then why not accept it and adopt it officially with all legal safeguards for better functioning of our democracy and reject the colonial legacy of ‘Buckingham Palace’ Model few of us so enamoured of ??
The smallest unit of human population to be governed has been a tribe/community since time immemorial. Every defined tribe/community was headed by a patriarchal figure whose lineage ran for approximately 2 / 3 generations or a few generations more in rare cases. Quite paradoxically, it was the ‘discoverer’ of Oxygen Joseph Priestley, an 18th century British chemist cum liberal political theorist (or whatever that means) who theorised “the good and happiness of the members, that is the majority of the members of any state, is the great standard by which everything relating to that state must finally be determined” and it became cardinal principle of Parliamentary form of democracy modified to “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong” by Jeremy Bentham. Bentham’s evocation came to be known as ‘Philosophy of Utilitarianism’. Thus numerical superiority irrespective of moral codes became the touchstone of Parliamentary form of democracy. Numerical majority alone also became consensus too, howsoever flawed or outright absurd in several cases.
Parliamentary form of democracy necessitated bifurcation of State authority into two Heads, one as Head of the country defined as President / Monarch and the other as Head of the Government designated as Prime Minister, both elected indirectly, real bane of the governance. Power is concentrated in the Office of Prime Minister with President being the titular head. Separation of power, as well as checks and balances, are minimal to optimal (in theory and practice, both) with electoral compulsions forcing Prime Minister to appoint even undesirable to criminal elements into governance with talented technocrats advising them from sidelines, often ignored or scorned. One year prior to elections, country witnesses an avalanche of favours with deficits going into a tailspin. In case of incumbent Government is not hopeful of being re-elected, the deluge of unethical favours turns ugly with successive Government burning mid-night oil to retrieve economy from ruins of the legacy left behind. With a multiplicity of elections, weeks before scheduled dates of elections, Model Code of Conduct is imposed by Election Commission leading to extensive Governance-Paralysis. Parliamentary form of governance allows space for divisive/fissiparous tendencies too. First such ‘tendency’ appeared in the manifest of ‘Two Nation Theory’, then Muslim-appeasement in the garb of secularism, pernicious and detrimental socialism, then anti-Hinduism, climaxed by brazen anti-nationalism and also challenging all important decisions of the Government in Supreme Court. A similar situation prevails in Britain too wherein British apex court actively interferes with Brexit decisions whatsoever adopted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. For every decision and action in the interest of the nation, a Parliamentary Prime Minister has to surmount scores of obstacles with deliberations dragging ceaselessly to the point of blasé. Government enjoying majority in both Houses of Parliament concurrently is somewhat a rare phenomenon and cause of keen tussles over Bills of national import.
Political freedom was purported to be attained in 1947 by a certain political party whose lowest priority was national unity and they pursued it to the hilt leading to one of the worst genocides in recent history. Tragically, the party was led by a leader who used to often lampoon national unity and ridicule nation’s sovereignty in his own exclusive way, “sovereignty over what ?” !! I observe a distinct possibility of him readily adopting ‘Buckingham Palace’ Model of governance post-1947 under the direct supervision of the then Viceroy Mountbatten to ensure continuous irruptions of divisive and fissiparous tendencies all over the country in decades to come which Presidential governance would not have allowed. It might have been by design and intent to ensure, the nation always remained on boil unable to advance in development.
After languishing for seven decades in miseries of ‘Buckingham Palace’ Model of governance, Prime Minister Modi undertook the gigantic responsibility of systematically and methodically uniting a profoundly disparate nation through Constitutional steps like implementation of Goods & Service Tax, abolition of Triple-Talaq, Uniform Civil Code, excellent transportation links, impending reorganisation of States, repealing scores of redundant laws that hampered good governance etc. He is in the process of implementing One Nation, One Election which would pave the way of formalising current rowdy governance into Presidential one. His transparency and impeccable integrity are mighty impulsions that will succeed in bringing around all dissenting elements to converge into a consensus. It is a sort of restructuring of the nation on such a scale that humongous challenges viz. economic recession, law and order, judicial defiance, turmoil in Parliament, social media etc. are destined to appear on the way that must be tackled with great vision and fortitude.
Presidential form of governance has the authority of State and Government in one person with assertive, mighty institutional checks and balances, complete freedom to appoint technocrats in Government with much faster decisions and actions in the interest of the nation. It curbs fissiparous tendencies with a heavy hand as a strong unifying force. Quality of governance is further strengthened by direct election to the Office of President, legislature and President being two verticals mutually monitoring and preventing misuse of power, efficiency, decisiveness and stability of tenure. Critics of the system do mention flaws viz. tendency towards authoritarianism, eventual political grid-lock and possible hurdles to change leadership. However, these flaws have appeared in a more pronounced form in Parliamentary democracies too. A tendency towards authoritarianism was profoundly pronounced during tenures of JL Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi with effective Opposition being virtually non-existent. Moreover, democracy cannot succeed without a certain degree of authoritarianism in the hands of a matured, nationalistic leader of unimpeachable integrity. Political grid-locks are more detrimental and hurdle some in Parliamentary governance which our nation has witnessed on multiple occasions. Impediments to change in leadership appeared in it’s worst form when PM Indira Gandhi refused to resign even after her election to Lok Sabha was held null and void by a State High Court, something not only unprecedented but also illegitimate and unconstitutional too. Indeed, the virtues and advantages of Parliamentary democracy are characterised by a marked degree of volatility.
If Judiciary imposes ‘tyranny of the unelected’ on the country, Parliament carries palpable ‘tyrannical limitations of the elected’ too. Prime Minister Modi’s massive mandate of Lok Sabha-2019 is solidly based on his sterling governance during 2014-19, unprecedented even in Presidential democracies. Immediate previous massive mandate belonged to Rajiv Gandhi in Lok Sabha-1984 elections albeit it was based on emotional naivete of masses instead of any performance worth it’s salt. What we behold is that Parliamentary democracy is worth its salt only when a leader of the nation is as accomplished as Narendra Modi who appeared on the political horizon only after seven decades of nightmarish governance post-1947. If likelihood of nation going into right hands is perpetually so thin, it is certainly advisable to switch-over to Presidential governance which did not allow even irresponsible mavericks like President John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, incompetent Jimmy Carter, Islamist Barack Obama or ‘Cowboyish’ Donald Trump to have a free run over the United States Of America. On the contrary, it allowed Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson to establish roots of democracy deep in American soil on which President Abraham Lincoln could abolish slavery and conduct civil war from the White House successfully.