Constitutional Framework for Political System in India
Indian polity is guided by the principles laid down in the Constitution, which defines every aspect of Indian political system including its basic objectives. The rules and procedure embedded in the Constitution serve as the basic edifice upon which rests the governance of the country. Besides elucidating the structure and functioning of governments at the Central, state and local levels, it also acts as a reference document for dealing with several other aspects of politics.
Constitutional Values Guiding Indian Politics
Indian Constitution may have detailed provisions on fundamental rights, duties and directive principles of state policy, but the practitioners of politics do not always uphold its true spirit. While the Constitution describes India as a ‘Sovereign, Socialist and Secular Democratic Republic’, developments in the post-independence politics have questioned this claim. While enforcement of Emergency regime undermined the Democratic and Republic values as enlisted in the Constitution, the instances of communal violence have seriously jeopardised the value of secularism. India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have been compromised time and again. Despite divided governments and criminalisation of politics, there hasn’t been any formidable democratic and social intervention that could rescue the country from such a morass.
Is Constitution to be blamed for Political Crises in India?
It’s time we introspected how justified is it to pass the buck to Constitution for every anomaly in Indian politics, because a Constitution can do nothing more than setting up the skeletal framework of the polity. According to Granville Austin, a political scholar, political crises in India were not triggered because of any defect in the Constitution, but by “the short-sighted policies and inordinate ambitions of politicians in power.”
Some classic examples of how yesteryear political figures “moved away from constitutionalism toward absolutism” could be found in different phases of Congress regime. If Pt. Nehru created a wrong precedent by advising the imposition of President’s Rule in Punjab in 1951, the high-handedness of her daughter became evident when she pressed for the ‘repressive’ Press Bill in 1971. But subversions of the Constitutional provisions continue unbridled even today.
Despite having a strong Constitutional edifice, Indian politics is up against some unprecedented challenges like ethnic conflicts, casteism, rise in militancy and emergence of ideologies intolerant towards liberal democracies.. There has also been a surge in cases of corruption, intra-party conflicts and disruptions of parliamentary proceedings. This has further led to increasing apathy among the citizenry in taking part in electoral exercises.
However, suggesting a review of our Constitution may not be the right step ahead. The political parties, common citizens and the government have to understand that “Constitution is not failing but we are failing the Constitution”.