Do our parties believe in power to the people?

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: There is an air of unreality even as the three major political parties in the State flex their muscle in the panchayat elections now underway.

Firstly, all the three parties have left no stone unturned to raise the hype over the outcome of the poll and say that the future of the government depends on it.

The reality is that the elections for the taluk panchayat and zilla panchayat elections have no role to play in determining the political fortunes of beleaguered B.S. Yediyurappa.

The verdict will not in any way affect the balance of power in the state assembly, where, at the moment, Yediyurappa appears to be well ensconced.

In the case of the rural voters trusting BJP for running the panchayat institutions, Yediyurappa may well claim that his policies have received a mandate from the people and cock a snook at his detractors who have been baying for his blood for months now.

In the case of an adverse vote against the BJP, the Congress and JDS may go to town claiming that the people have shown their displeasure and may demand that Yediyurappa should demit office.

To no one’s surprise, the CM will reject such a demand by taking the stand that it does not reflect the mood of the people since urban voters were not a part of the election process. And in any case his future has to be decided on the floor of the legislature and not in a panchayat election.

The BJP national president Nitin Gadkari who had said that Yediyurappa had been given a reprieve till the panchayat elections also will not be able to secure the resignation of Yediyurappa because of the likely adverse impact it may have on the only saffron government in the south.

Secondly, all the three parties, have been conveniently ignoring the core issue of the panchayat elections, namely of how efficiently these institutions of democratic decentralization could be run to ensure that the money meant for rural development is spent properly for the benefit and improvement of stake holders and how they can remove the impediments coming in the way.

All the three parties without an exception have been busy beating around the bush on the issue of empowerment of these institutions and talk of rural development programmes as if rural development programmes are synonymous with panchayat empowerment.

None of them, including the ruling BJP, are telling people about their commitment to empower panchayat institutions. Even if they do, whatever they say will have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

It is because all of them have a uniform record of emasculating the panchayats as far as possible and have abetted moves to subtly withdraw the powers given to them by law.

They would have succeeded in their endeavour to turn them into their vassals but for the constitutional safeguards that these institutions enjoy thanks to the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments.

There have been occasions when the Congress tried its best to avoid regular elections before the expiry of the term. The BJP too would have tried this time to postpone the poll but went ahead due to sheer political compulsions and prospects of the political advantage it could derive in the process.

This was the direct consequence of the reduction of seats reserved for the OBCs as per the direction of the Supreme Court, and everybody knows that it is a constituency in which BJP is not comfortably placed.

More than the political parties, their MLAs regardless of the political divide are dead opposed to any move to empower the panchayats since they fear that any alternate leadership which may emerge in the rural areas as a consequence may prove to be inimical to their position.

They have not lost a single occasion to put these institutions down, deride them and talk about the rampant corruption in the panchayat  institutions, forgetting the fact that they are the fountain heads of corruption and have not lifted a finger to fight corruption.

It is a case of kettle calling the cup black.

The report of the third State Finance Commission headed by A.G. Kodgi, which has recommended a new formula for sharing the resources between the State government and the panchayats has been with the State government for more than a year but neither the ruling party nor the opposition are bothered about the implementation of the report.

The Constitution enjoins that the States appoint the state finance commission to ensure a fair devolution of finances to enable the panchayats to discharge the responsibilities given to them.

The implementation of the recommendations of the previous two finance commissions has been quite tardy and there appears to be no early prospects of the latest one being implemented.

At the end of the day, the point at issue is whom should the rural voters prefer in the ensuing polls to the panchayat elections. One party is as bad as another and all of them are universally untrustworthy.  They have no chance but to vote.

And political parties are there to utilise the opportunity for their political aggrandizement and have hardly any time to give any thought for  strengthening of the system, whose vitality has been sapped by the subtle moves of the government to keep all these institutions under their bureaucratic thumbs.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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19 Responses to “Do our parties believe in power to the people?”

  1. div Says:

    People of a stone-age banana republic like India do not deserve better politics than this until they open their eyes and look at other new alternatives like Loksatta party.

  2. Bhamy V Shenoy Says:

    Why cannot the press give wide publicity to a party like
    Loksatta which is really transparent and democratic. If more people
    join it and strengthen it, we can give a real alternative. It has
    made a good beginning in Andhra Pradaesh though only its president
    was the lone winner. We should support Loksatta in other states

  3. twistleton Says:

    Obviously not. Why should they? Do the people believe in power to the people? That is the question

  4. K.Balasubrahmanyan Says:

    sad commentary on our system with no hopes of improvement

  5. div Says:

    @ Bhamy V Shenoy,

    Great to see a second supporter of Loksatta here :). I have been trying to bring them to the attention of people here who only seem to know about the traditional parties like the congress, BJP and the JDS.

    Let us do our part to give the coverage they deserve which the main-stream media usually ignores.

  6. Complex Says:

    @div : I too have joined Loksatta. Albeit a non-working member

  7. div Says:

    @complex: great!

    @ K.Balasubrahmanyan: If you think there is no hope for India, you should look at and consider supporting them if you think they are better than all the regular political parties.

  8. Kitapati Says:

    Is this loksatta party some kind of freemason lodge.

  9. Rohith Says:

    @Mr Bhamy Shenoy,
    When you say – “Loksatta which is really transparent and democratic” – do you mean you have concrete explanation (with citations, perhaps) of why this party is transparent, and more importantly democratic? What do you mean by a party being democratic in the first place – please elaborate.

    On the other hand:
    I see that it is because of your kind of onconditional (read blind) support they’ve received in Karnataka that the party has not even seen the need to change their name in Karnataka, unlike what they’ve done in TN (where they seem to be referred as Makkal Sakti Katchi). Now if you want more such blind believers in a party that isnt capable to understand the people ‘by itself’ I wonder what other things about us will this party go on and ignore.

  10. Abhi Says:

    Div, this is why I am certain that you are delusional. There is no future to India. Translate Loksatta to Kannada and you will get Rohit’s vote.

  11. Doddi Buddi Says:

    I am looking through Loksatta website…)

  12. Complex Says:

    @Abhi, Rohit:

    I joined the Party only after attending a meeting at their office. The kind of people I met there were really good, and they genuinely want to do something that will change the system / bring pressure on others to change the system. Of course, nothing can be perfect. Maybe, even Loksatta has flaws. But, one has to choose the cleanest party and join it if one wants to make some change.

    Here’s a related blog-post.

  13. Abhi Says:

    Complex – I am not saying Loksatta is bad. What I am saying is people are bad and Loksatta will never win elections. Change will come if ppl are unhappy about the current state. People are more agitated about Loksatta not having a Kannada name (and things like that) than a decent quality of life. You get what you want.

  14. Vinay Says:


    Exactly, this is the whole problem. People in India, even many of the “middle class”, do not want to move beyond useless identity and rhetoric-based politics. Some people want to vote their caste, some people want to vote only if the party does everything in Kannada, some people want to vote only for reservations, and so on and so forth.

    People are just not interested in substance and actual work.

  15. Complex Says:


    I understand your point. But, there is no harm in trying. Rome was not built in a day.

  16. DailyBread Says:


    >But, there is no harm in trying. Rome was not built in a day.

    A genuine question. Have you set a target date/year for Loksatta to get into a position of strength from which they can influence/change policy. IMO JP is no Kanshiram and he does not have a pork barrel constituency to begin with as a starting base …..

    What we need today is a Swatantra party ver. 2.0. Congress minus dynasty can become this or a newlook BJP can aspire to be one.

  17. Complex Says:

    To be honest, I don’t know. I am just a member. I am not
    actively involved though I have met few of the members. But, the
    good thing is anyone can join and is very welcome. It is like open
    source coding. If the organization is like that, it is bound to
    grow. If somebody says, you should do this, and do that, great!!,
    please join. If the idea is good, it *will* be done. Personally,
    all I am looking for is that it should contest from a few seats
    initially, win some in the next 5-10 years, and then it can get
    more popular. I don’t think we should try to speed up the process,
    because then we will be looking at short-cuts. Another thing is you
    don’t need to be *in* govt to influence policy. If you are
    contesting and eating away a few thousand votes from others, those
    others who are losing votes to you will have to address the issues
    that you are bringing up. Thus, you can do some change even by just
    contesting. I met Dr. Shankara Prasad in one meeting. He looks like
    a very earnest fellow. The thing
    is, if a better, more effective, cleaner party comes, I will go
    join that. I don’t care. But, as of now, this is by bar the best
    shot we have for a better future.

  18. Abhi Says:

    “Rome was not built in a day.” For starters, Romans had to
    invent democracy. What exactly are we inventing? We just need to
    copy what west has already tested and proven.

  19. rakeshbabugr Says:


    Yes. You are right. We have democracy. But, unfortunately it is flawed. The reason I say this is, can a honest guy with not much money stand in elections? When money power rules so much, it is tough for them to win. To give an analogy:

    Indian democracy is like Windows Operating System. It is screwed up. US/UK/Sweden/Iceland democracies are like Linux Operating system. All the checks and balances are in place. I am sure an honest guy would have no problem in standing for election there.

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