Legal Musings: Chief Minister’s Feudalistic Claims An Imminent Peril To Democracy  

Will somebody please remind Chandrababu that he has his socio-economic understanding wrong when he says “pensions doled out by my 

government, roads laid by my government?” - Sakshi Post

By L. Ravichander

Three important words WE THE PEOPLE are the strategic start words of the largest written constitution in the world. The Indian Constitution symbolises the will of the people and the authority of the citizenry. Political heavyweights often misunderstand the delegation of power to them under the Constitution through the route of the hustings as a license to do what ever they want.

Six decades of Indian democracy has deepened the cleavage between the ruled and the ruler. From the unfriendly cop whose family is paid from the taxes of the citizen, to the mighty bureaucrat and the aggressive politician, the citizen is constantly elbowed out of the system.

The statement, and even more importantly, Chandrababu’s attitude is a danger signal. We ignore it at our own peril. The trustee cannot behave like he owns the Trust. Will somebody please remind the Chief Minister that he has his socio-economic understanding wrong when he says pensions are doled out by ‘my’ government, roads are laid by ‘my’ government?

While elsewhere in the world we constantly hear of people demonstrations and people empowerment. But, they have been reduced to a new caricature in the Indian context. This phenomenon of not giving the common man or the citizen the place that is due to him in the polity is worrisome.

Read in this context the statement of a Chief Minister telling his voters not to use “his roads” and not to be the beneficiaries of “his” doles, comes as an affirmation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I must confess of times when I waxed eloquent of the very same person. I saw the Messiah, who understood the polity and the politics he was called upon to handle. The same Chandrababu Naidu is reported to have stated at Nandyal, "If you don’t like my administration, do not take pensions doled out by my government and do not walk on the roads laid by my government."

The statement, and even more importantly the attitude is a danger signal. We ignore it at our own peril. The trustee cannot turn back and behave like he owns the Trust. Will somebody please remind the Chief Minister that he has his socio-economic understanding wrong when he says pensions doled out by my government, roads laid by my government?

He will do well to understand that the premise of governance in a system governed by the rule of law and the delegation of authority is that the properties and the wealth of the nation belongs to the people. The theory that the citizen who was critical of the government shall choose out of the welfare mechanics of that government reeks of a feudal attitude and ill suits the image of a modern Chief Minister.

More importantly it ill suits the design and fabric of our Constitution. It was grudgingly conceded that running the government is never an easy task. There are day to day challenges, there are fears of the future. There are constant acts of balancing, people to please, promises to keep, targets to achieve and the list is endless.

However, to arrogate to oneself the proprietary rights of the wealth of the state and to ask the citizen to fall in line or run the risk could be a dangerous precedent in a democracy.

Elsewhere in the world, even where democracies are less mature, a statement of this kind would have attracted a lot of flak. That this goes nearly unnoticed is perhaps indicative of the fact that the citizen knows when to talk and then he surely will. A seasoned politician backed by a political party of repute must be quick to bite such words as were uttered. It would show great character if the Chief Minister’s office had, withdrawn what was said.

Well that is asking for too much in these days of Indian politics. You encourage such illusions at your own risk. In the meanwhile, take in your stride our politicians who feel that it is their benevolence that you live on and you pay a heavy price if you are to be critical of their governance.


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