This is the time to remember and reiterate the view of Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), revered as Lok Nayak, that the people have the right to demand resignation of their elected representatives if they fail in their duty and become corrupt, autocratic and inefficient. If they do not resign — MLAs, MLCs and MPs who work for private gain and not for public good — they must be recalled. This is called the ‘Right To Recall’ (RTR).
The principle behind this idea is that the Right to Elect MUST accompany the Right to Recall because whenever elected representative violates the legal and moral code of conduct he can be Recalled if he does not resign on his own.
It is argued that if the Right to Recall is denied to the voter, Democracy shall become a mockery. And sadly today it has. It is because our Constitution does not provide for the Right to Recall. If only it had, this Right to Elect of the voter would have made the MPs and MLAs accountable to the voters.
However, some States under their powers to legislate on State Subjects have passed Recall Laws at Municipal and Local Bodies level. Among them are MP, Chhattisgarh and even Bihar. Not in our State!
As years passed by, after Independence, our Democracy became a ‘functioning anarchy’ as Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith had famously said as long ago as 1960s. At last, a Constitution (Amendment) Bill about Voter’s Right to Recall MPs and MLAs was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1974 (a year before the infamous Emergency was declared) but the Bill did not pass.
It is important to note that Atal Bihari Vajpayee of Jana Sangh (now BJP) had supported this Bill. Well, it is a paradox that this Bill was never followed up by NDA under Vajpayee when it came to power later nor by the UPA led by Congress. For reasons best known to itself, the then Election Commission had opposed the Bill for Right to Recall. According to reports, BJP MP Varun Gandhi had introduced, surprisingly, a Private Member’s Bill, The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill in 2016 when NDA (BJP) was in power with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Whatever happened to its fate GoK. However, we know whatever happened to Varun Gandhi through the social media. Let it be.
When the Janata Party led by JP came to power at the Centre, after the Emergency, in 1977, JP wanted the new Government to bring laws regarding the Right to Recall and to create a designated legal authority, like the High Court and Supreme Court, to deal expeditiously with the cases of corruption. Looking at what is happening today with regard to rampant corruption found among elected representatives, it is obvious no political party, including BJP whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi in great rhetoric declared from every corner of the country that ‘Na khaunga na khane dunga’ (neither will I take bribe nor will I allow others to take bribe), wants to bring the Law about Right to Recall. True Modi by himself is a Paragon of Virtue. But what is hindering him from taking the advice of JP? Or take forward the 2016 Bill of Varun Gandhi? These are pertinent questions asked by the young, intelligent and old, wise voters of this country.
These idealistic, intelligent young people and the wise, enlightened senior voters are the millions of Arjunas in the electoral Kurukshetra of Indian Democracy. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, is the Krishna leading these millions of Arjunas in this war. And what does the last chapter of the Bhagavadgita, say?
Wherever Krsna, the master of yoga, and the archer Partha are present, there will always be good fortune, victory, wealth, well-being and righteousness. This is my conviction. [Ch.18]
Where there is Arjuna the Warrior and Krishna the Divinity, there is always Victory. Have no doubts. And here for one Krishna (Modi) there are crores of Arjunas (Indian voters). Therefore, now is the time for Modi to fulfill the aspirations of JP.
An elderly voter came to meet me yesterday afternoon, presented me a bunch of fresh, beautiful, blood-red, long-stemmed roses and a tastefully wrapped packet of sweets to discuss a “very serious matter.” He had come armed with a piece of paper wherein was scribbled his “serious matter” or problem. Going by my long experience as a journalist, I thought it must be his personal problem. I was indeed foxed by this old fox of an honest citizen of India. He was not foxy though.
Mentioning that the State Assembly election is at our threshold and reminding me of the Rs. 8 crore cash seized in a corruption case involving an MLA and his bureaucrat son, this visitor asked me to take the lead to form a Watchdog Committee to create voter awareness about voting for an honest, meritorious candidate who would work for public good and not for private, personal gain (by indulging in corruption). He also wanted the ‘Voter Awareness Committee’ to act as an informer to the Lokayukta to catch the corrupt public and government servants.
He wanted a Law to be made to forfeit the cash, jewellery, even immovable and movable properties illegally acquired and seized by the authorities, Lokayukta, IT, ED or CBI to be taken over by the Government if the accused is not able to give proper, convincing explanation or provide documents to claim them to be legally acquired within 10 days after the raid and seizure.
He also wanted a Right to Recall Law to be passed by the Parliament and that I should write about it. Well, with roses lying on my table, so pleasing to my eyes and freshening my breath with its subtle fragrance while that sweet packet tempting me to open it and taste its contents, how can I say no to this noble, patriotic old soul sitting in front of me. Helpless, I was to help him.
He must have read my face like a physiognomist and said, “…but the journey of a thousand mile, like that of Rahul Gandhi’s (smiles gently with a twinkle in his somnolent eyes), starts with the first step. You start, we will follow.” That was a tall order. He even quoted Swami Vivekananda — Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.
Later, I called Bhamy V. Shenoy of MGP the local NGO to take up the cause. As for me, I have kept my promise by writing this article on the lines that senior citizen had wanted. My call: Voters of India unite, you have nothing to lose but your corrupt MPs and MLAs.