Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Constitution and ministers

The Constitution of India does not mention ranks of ministers like cabinet minister, minister of state or deputy minister. Article 74 mentions the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head. Third Schedule has forms of oaths or affirmations of office and secrecy for a Minister for the Union. There is no separate oath for Prime Minister. Similarly there are no separate oaths for other ranks of ministers of the Union.
Article 164 mentions the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head. Third Schedule has forms of oaths or affirmations of office and secrecy for a Minister for a State. There is no separate oath for Chief Minister. Similarly there are no separate oaths for other ranks of ministers of a State.
Sometimes there have been Deputy Prime Ministers and Deputy Chief Ministers. Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram, Yashwantrao Chavan, Devi Lal and Lal Krishna Advani were Deputy Prime Ministers.
How did the ranks of cabinet minister, minister of state with independent charge, minister of state and deputy minister come about? I have no idea. Nowadays according to the best of my knowledge there are no deputy ministers. In the Constitution it is Council of Ministers and not Cabinet.
During Jawaharlal Nehru’s time there were parliamentary secretaries. Rajiv Gandhi revived the practice and for some time Ahmed Patel, Arun Singh and Oscar Fernandes were parliamentary secretaries. In some states parliamentary secretaries are appointed to accommodate MLAs who could not be made ministers.
Did Indians copy from the British? Unlikely. In UK there is Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Secretaries for Home, Defence and so on except for Finance for which there is Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Sometimes something unconstitutional is done. If nobody challenges it or the challenge is overruled others do it later on and it becomes a convention. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha should have been in session by the end of April 2014 to approve President’s Rule as per Article 352 failing which President’s Rule should have been revoked. Nothing happened. President Pranab Mukherjee did not uphold the constitution. Manmohan Singh and his ministers did not do anything. Nobody challenged the unconstitutional continuance of President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh.
President and Governors should see that Councils of Ministers function according to Constitution.

Triumph of Narendra Modi

In 2004 soon after NDA lost the Lok Sabha elections Smriti Irani said “We lost because of Narendra Modi.”
During 2009 Lok Sabha elections Lal Krishna Advani was BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Once Arun Shourie said After Advani, Modi will be the next prime minister. Not many gave Modi a chance then. BJP lost the election. Mentioning Modi was one reason. Feroze Varun Gandhi’s speech against Muslims was another reason. Advani’s targeting Manmohan Singh as weakest prime minister backfired when Singh counterattacked Advani for release of terrorists during Kandahar hijacking.
In November 2010 after BJP-JD(U) combine won Bihar elections. Prannoy Roy of NDTV mentioned Nitish Kumar as next prime minister.
BJP had many prime ministerial aspirants. Advani hoped for second attempt. Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajnath Singh nursed ambitions. RSS wanted Modi to be BJP’s president. Modi refused.
Modi faced hostile questions on television interviews. He walked out of Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate. After that there were no TV interviews.
The situation changed when Ratan Tata agreed to shift Nano factory from Singur to Sanand after he faced protests from Mamata Banerjee. Industrialists started to view Modi favourably. Soon there was good coverage about Gujarat and Modi. Amitabh Bachchan became brand ambassador for Gujarat tourism. During a meeting of industrialists Anil Ambani compared Modi to Mohandas Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel.
Modi’s rise made Advani and other contenders uneasy. They tried to stop Modi’s march. Nitish Kumar spoke against Modi. Most BJP and RSS members wanted Modi as PM. Advani skipped National Executive meeting in Goa. Modi was declared chief of campaign committee. Advani resigned his posts and then agreed to continue. Nitish Kumar ended the coalition.
BJP declared Modi as PM candidate. Then on he was compared to Rahul Gandhi. People talked of NaMo vs RaGa.
After AAP made its electoral debut and won 28 seats out of 70 in Delhi Arvind Kejriwal was seen as a PM candidate. BJP had 32 seats. Kejriwal quit as CM after 49 days when Congress voted against AAP’s Lokayukta Bill.
During AICC session at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi, Mani Shankar Aiyar said Modi can supply tea. Modi turned that comment to his advantage.
Modi led opinion polls from time to time though they did not give BJP/NDA clear majority. Once Election Commission declared Lok Sabha election schedule Modi was projected as leading the polls. The long election campaign turned nasty.
Most opinion polls for a long time gave NDA less than 272 seats and talked of permutations and combinations of various leaders becoming PM. Regional leaders thought they could head federal front.
After counting was over on 12 May at 6.30 p.m. TV channels came out with their exit polls. The lowest for NDA was Times Now’s 249. News 24/Chanakya gave highest to BJP/NDA at 291/341. CNN-IBN/CSDS gave 280 to NDA. NDTV gave 279 to NDA.
Congress members said they did not believe in exit polls. Amit Shah said there is Modi wave, soon there will be a tsunami. Some said there is no Modi wave. Some quibbled about the number of seats needed for wave or tsunami.
At 8 a.m. on 16 May 2014 counting of votes began. Soon BJP was leading. When BSE and NSE opened Sensex and Nifty shot up. We had the unusual sight of Lata Venkatesh doing high five with Sonia Shenoy on CNBC TV18 when Nifty reached 7500. Later Sensex and Nifty came down but ended higher than previous day’s close; Nifty 79, Sensex 216.
In Amethi it was see-saw between Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani. Ultimately Rahul Gandhi won. Modi won from Banaras by around 3,37,000 votes and Baroda by around 5,70,000 votes. He will have to quit one seat. That seat will have by-election.
Most BJP leaders won except for Arun Jaitley who lost from Amritsar to Amarinder Singh. BJP crossed 272 and NDA crossed 330.
Modi had a strategy. He sent Amit Shah to UP. He got B. S Yediyurappa and B. Sriramulu back in BJP. He had alliances with various parties. LJP, TDP, DMDK, PMK, MDMK, Apna Dal and other parties became allies of BJP. Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP had resigned in April 2002 on the issue of not sacking Narendra Modi over Gujarat riots. Some politicians quit JD(U) and joined BJP. M. J. Akbar who was Modi’s critic joined BJP. Smriti Irani and Narendra Modi shared stage in Amethi.
Modi started to give interviews. His interview to Madhu Kishwar appeared on NewsX. Soon ETV Rajasthan and other channels had his interviews. He appeared on Rajat Sharma’s Aap ki Adalat on India TV. He got more air time and nullified Kejriwal’s advantage. His DD interview made news for portions deleted. Those portions appeared on TV and internet.
After 1984 a party had clear majority in Lok Sabha. Since 1989 it was coalition or minority government.
Modi’s victory is defeat of many declared and undeclared PM candidates. It is defeat of Rahul Gandhi. Some had predicted Congress tally may come down to 80 seats. It was worse than that. In Rajasthan, Gujarat and Delhi, Congress did not win any seat. Corruption, inflation and price rise caused Congress defeat. Many Congress ministers lost. Sushilkumar Shinde, Kapil Sibal, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Jitendra Singh and C. P. Joshi were some of them. Pawankumar Bansal, Priya Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam were some MPs who lost.
It is defeat of Arvind Kejriwal. He hoped to win 100 seats. He ended up with 4 seats in Punjab. AAP failed due to many reasons. One is said to be Kejriwal’s resignation as Delhi CM after 49 days. Kejriwal had talked of grass roots democracy and no high command culture. In candidate selection both principles were not followed. Outsiders were called to become members and given tickets. Those who were party members since the beginning got disappointed.
It is defeat of Nitish Kumar. When he broke up with BJP he expected alliance with Congress. That did not take place. Congress allied with RJD. JD(U) won 2 seats.
It is defeat of Mulayam Singh Yadav. After Akhilesh Yadav became chief minister law and order deteriorated in UP. It was said UP has five and half chief ministers: Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ramgopal Yadav, Shivpal Yadav and chief secretary are five chief ministers and Akhilesh Yadav is half chief minister. SP ended up with 5 seats.
It is defeat of Mayawati. BSP did not win any seat.
It is defeat of Mamata Banerjee. She had high hopes. Anna Hazare had praised her. Both were to address a rally at Ram Leela Ground. The rally flopped. Anna blamed his assistant. After that Anna abandoned Mamata. Mamata hoped to come third in number of seats. She came fourth. TMC cannot dictate terms.
It is defeat of Jayalalitha. She hoped by winning majority of seats in Tamil Nadu she can be PM. She can head a coalition. BJP had majority by itself. There are allies. Modi does not need ADMK support.
Modi’s rivals tried to make the contest between secularism and communalism and win. They did not succeed.

2 Letters to Indian Express

Long election period
This refers to `An election without end’ (IE, 17/4/2014) by Jawid Laiq. I agree with him. Election Commission should have held voting for all 543 constituencies on a single day. At the most it could have been on two days with no more than three days gap between them. CECs and other ECs are consumed by megalomania and they stretch out election process. After voting is over in many constituencies filing of nomination papers begins in other constituencies. Citizens should protest at Jantar Mantar against such a long period.

Death penalty
This refers to Andhyarujina’s article about IPC 376E in Shakti Mills case (IE 21/7/2014). Death penalty for a repeat rape is a just punishment. Other countries should follow India’s example. We should not allow European countries dictate our laws. If every criminal who had committed rape and murder had been hanged after Dhananjoy Chatterjee Delhi gang rape would not have taken place. Many European countries punish people who deny holocaust. We should have a law to punish people who oppose death penalty. Death penalty should be obligatory in every case of repeat rape, murder and such crimes. Supreme Court was wrong to restrict death penalty to rarest of rare cases. It encroached on the power of Parliament. Amartya Sen is not a Nobel laureate. There is no Nobel Prize for Economics. He won Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

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