Prime Minister must not be Presidential

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

His Goebbels in pet media notwithstanding, whatever little consciousness has yet not deserted the Indians makes it clear that Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is going to give an autocratic rule despite presence of a cabinet.

His tenure has begun with exhibition of scant regards for the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules framed and enforced by the President under Clause (3) of Article 77 of the Constitution of India, as all the Secretaries and top bureaucrats are given the impression that only he matters, not his ministers, in matter of governance.

And, to his Goebbels, he is a “Presidential Prime minister”!

What a wordy acrobatics!

No wonder. This happens, when journalists jettison their professional conscience and media as a whole does not bother about rising of Goebbels in their midst.

There is, of course, no wrong in June 5 call of the Prime Minister to the Union Secretaries to be “pro-people”, because that exactly is what needs be done, as mandate 2014 unambiguously bears the people’s verdict against Manmohan Singh’s anti-people governance. But sadly, the call is difficult to materialize because of overlaping contradictions.

The PM has asked the Union Secretaries to do away with archaic rules and procedures to proceed with what they perceive to be “pro-people”. It is good to do away with irrelevant rules. But, how can a Secretary or any Officer do away with any rule of the land? Keeping or quashing the rules is not assigned by Laws to the bureaucrats. It is the responsibility of the law makers. There shall be anarchy if bureaucracy is encouraged to usurp the role of Legislature. Pro-people governance, then, would melt in misrule.

Mr. Modi has offered freedom to the Union Secretaries and top bureaucrats to come to him directly with any suggestions they would like to advance or to seek his intervention when they need to resolve any issue. This is bad, because, in both these actions, the minister concerned shall stay a person of no importance.

Under the Rules of Business noted supra, every department is kept under the charge of a minister, who is answerable to the Parliament, individually and collectively as a member of the Ministry. The Secretary is answerable to the concerned Minister and is to work under his control. Allowing or encouraging a Secretary to do away with the rules and procedures, and to “directly” contract the Prime Minister with suggestions as he wants and/or to seek the PM’s intervention to resolve any issue, apparently against the minister, is nothing but disastrous to cabinet-centric political administration.

Modi’s June 5 meeting with the Union Secretaries portends bad days for whatever semblance of democracy India is still having, because a Parliamentary Democracy cannot survive if a Prime Minister becomes Presidential.

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