Ambedkar And Parliamentary Democracy
- Dr KS Sharma
Various State Govts and ruling parties are busy preparing to celebrate 125th birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on April 14. The Sangh Parivar of course had launched efforts last year itself to “appropriate” him, as many have commented. Why only they, everyone sees a vote-getter in Ambedkar. But it is much more than votes and vote-banks. There is statecraft--cratfiness too--in what they do. They have larger goals.
Even as the farce of electoral democracy has become a juggernaut on the four-wheels of moneybags, liquor crates, communal and caste mafias, manipulation and muscle power, all well-greased with state funds that are intended to buy votes in the name of freebies and welfare schemes, and getting increasingly exposed as a commercialized ritual, the ruling classes and their parties are out to sustain, though in vain, the dubious democratic credentials of the system. Quite often they seek to invoke Ambedkar to embellish and laud to the skies the so-called biggest democracy India has. The academic and media pundits would be waiting in the wings--covering up and ignoring the juggernaut mentioned above--to praise the ‘great wisdom’ of the Indian voters, whatever the results, if only to serve the respective winning sections of the ruling class parties, by rendering them legitimacy they do not have. They claim people’s mandate, shoving under the carpet all undemocratic practices, and ascribe to themselves a democratic sanction they do not have in the real sense. In this context certain views of Ambedkar on political democracy, in particular parliamentary democracy, need to be noted, analysed and understood deeply.
Then there has been an attempt in the recent past by the State agencies and a section of the polity and the media to brand and suppress the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) as an “extremist” organization. They are out to invoke and justify use of sedition laws to victimize them. We do not know much about the views of ASA and whether they indeed have “extremist” views as alleged. To the extent known, at least a section of ASA leaders, see and show Ambedkar as an architect of the Indian Constitution. Then there are “leftists” and so-called communists out to embellish and even to defend the parliamentary democracy, particularly as it is practised in India. In view of the above and more reasons, it is instructive to examine some of the views Ambedkar elaborated on parliamentary democracy.
Ambedkar was a great scholar, perhaps the topmost among India’s political class. He was also a politician whose role was sought to be ignored and relegated by the Gandhians, Nehruites, among others. It was not until 1990 that they decided to confer Bharat Ratna on him. And that happened as a non-Congress (VP Singh Govt). was taking root at the centre, after a long gap after 1977 Janata regime. It was only around that time and later that Ambedkar’s writings were more promoted, translated into some other languages and published with initiatives from non-Congress (and non-BJP ) Govts. It was only since then that his statues and Ambedkar Bhavans began to be built in every state, in thousands of villages, as never before. One can not forget that there were agitations at various places – some violent and some subtle – opposing to name a University after Ambedkar. Now there are so many Colleges and Universities in so many states named after him. It was only in the year 1998 that a feature film was made on Ambedkar, by Jabbar Patel, first in English, then dubbed into a few other languages. Despite it being a sincere attempt and a good example of a biographical film, it was never released and promoted in a big way, in the commercial cinema circuit. The cable TV channels show it only very rarely , definitely not in their prime-time slots. It was left to the DD to show it now and then, with least publicity, and often at odd hours. Now everyone is vying to use Ambedkar, even the Sangh Parivar is not lagging behind, having failed in all their earlier dirty tricks. Arun Shourie on Ambedkar was a thing of the past. Now the Parivar is seeking to reinvent and reinterpret their own Ambedkar.
It is in this background that one has to see the motives of the State and ruling class agencies in promoting Ambedkar as THE Architect of Indian Constitution. They have their own reasons for that. The gullible are made to believe as if he was the sole maker of laws and sole architect of a Constitution that are increasingly used to suppress people, stifle freedom of expression, enforce censorship, justify black laws including sections related to sedition, dismiss elected govts and invoke President’s Rule, impose Emergency etc. This is not speak of encounters and disappearances of thousands of people all over India in a very secular manner.
They do not often tell that he was only the Chairman of a Drafting Committee that had so many constraints. That the Constituent assembly was NOT elected by adult franchise, but was elected under much-despired, colonial, Govt. of India Act, 1935; that it was a child conceived much before 1947 August ritual of independence, better termed as Transfer of Power.
It is well known that India had adopted the Westminster model of the British. It is made so popular in India that the common man, even among the educated, does not know that it was born and developed as a form of rule that has been inseparable from bourgeois democracy. It is not appreciated that there are, and there could be, other forms beyond the U.K model, of course apart from the US and French (Presidential) models.
The following are only a few extracts from a paper presented at the XXXII Indian Social Science Congress held at New Delhi from 18'" December to 22nd December 2008.The paper by Dr K. S. SHARMA, Senior Professor of Law, was titled as : “ROADLESS REPUBLIC" TO A REPUBLIC OF ENDS":
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