CHURUMURI POLL: Citizens above Parliament?

The Lok Pal debate has been a tragicomedy on a roller-coaster. One minute, civil society is up, the next moment the establishment is up, or some other section of civil society. One minute, civil society is screaming in agony, the next moment it is screaming in relief and delight. And so on.

If the original fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar by Anna Hazare was intended to convey that Parliament with all its infirmities was not the sole repository of all wisdom and that “We, the People” too could play a part in the law-making process, the second at Ram Lila ground showcased people power if the establishment forgot the rules of fairplay.

The Lok Pal smorgasbord remains as messy as ever, but both sides are losing no opportunity to shadow-box each other. The bureaucrat turned RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, who is part of Team Anna, has now said that Anna Hazare is above Parliament and so indeed is every citizen of India.

“Every citizen is above Parliament…. The citizen has every right to tell the Parliament that it has not done the job. Citizens are more important than Parliament. Anna Hazare and every citizen is supreme. It is in the Constitution,” Kejriwal told Karan Thapar in the CNN-IBN program, Devil’s Advocate.

Kejriwal’s new line does two things. It turns what has so far been a battle between sections of civil society and the government into one against Parliament—government, opposition, the whole lot.

And it seeks in an abrasive sort of way to redefine and redraw the role of elected representatives who generally give the impression of considering their election as a licence to to do anything till the next election.

Broadly, Kejriwal’s stentorian line tallies with the questionable attempt by Team Anna to gherao ministers and MPs’ houses, as if all those who disagree with the Jan Lok Pal bill are enemies of India. Nevertheless, placing the citizen above the representative he has elected and their collective, is fraught with possibilities.

So, is Kejriwal right or is he playing with fire?

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25 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: Citizens above Parliament?”

  1. twistleton Says:

    He is so definitely playing with fire; he’s a fire-eater he is :D

  2. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Who is more important in a cricket match – the bowler or the batsman? The answer is that both are equally important. Without the bowler the batsman will not be able to play, and without the batsman the bowler will have no one to ball to.

    It is a mistake to say that citizens are above parliament. At the same time, it is also a mistake to say that the parliament is above citizens.

    The parliament is there to pass the necessary laws that will enable the citizens to live in a free and fair manner. That’s it. There is absolutely no point in arguing about who is more senior than the other. Both of them have their rights and responsiblities, that they need to fulfil.

    You can’t say that the Mt. Everest is more important than the Ganga river. They are two different things. Yes, the existence of Mt. Everest depends on that of Ganga, and vice versa, and hence both are equally important.

    These Jan Lokpal guys are getting hyper active these days and they have started commenting on all kinds of issues of which they have no knowledge. Media should stop giving these guys so much publicity.

    We tend to treat every word that drops out of their mouth as a divine incantation. It is completely absurd to compare the Parliament with the citizens.

  3. Simple Says:

    Really stupid. Media is the big culprit here blowing every word uttered by that megalomaniac Kejriwal.

  4. Gaby Says:

    I know this is nit-picking, but surely OM you meant the Himalayas and not Mt Everest.

    Onto Mr Kejriwal’s logorrhea, isnt Parliament the representation of all Citizens.

  5. harkol Says:

    There is no question that the Parliament of India is the supreme in representing the will of people. But, it is still a representative of the collective will of the ‘citizens’. So, to say citizens are above parliament is accurate. Parliament exists for citizen, not the other way around.

    But, to say any one member of citizenry is above parliament is absurd. Because Parliament represents the collective, not the singular entity called a citizen.

    Mr. Kejriwal is known to stretch the arguments and this is one such. What he says has basis, but stretches it to point of ridicule. Anna or any other citizen is not greater than (or above) Parliament.

    But, Anna along with all other citizen are indeed above Parliament. But, there is no way of knowing the collective will other than in the form of parliament. :(

  6. Kirikiri Says:

    Kejriwalji!

    Wow..nice to know that. I am in the stratosphere, literally hovering above the parliament.

    But I am confused as well. Agreed as a citizen I am above parliament. But are all the rest of 120 crore fellow Indians in the same orbit or is there some gradation there? I say ifI am IIT-IIM grad do I automatically get into higher orbit?

    Ok, I geddit. We are all equal in democracy and that means we all must be at the same level which ofc is above the parliament.

    Now what happens as a citizen I say Goverment is right in its approach of a consensus building on Lokpal Bill? Will it have same and equal weightage as Anna’s statement that Jan lokpal is the only thing?

  7. KishoreOnShore Says:

    It’s not about who’s more important ! It’s about what’s feasible… We are not communists… we still have democracy… we have own way of putting forward our rights… instead of using that, we cannot go ahead and mess with every functional body of the democracy ! It’s parliament today… next could be the Apex Court !

    I strongly believe he should gain a little perspective !

    And probably he was just being nervous and mumbled some shit ! Karan Thapar can make anyone do that !!! ;) :)

  8. Nitin K S Says:

    That’s fine we are all above parliament. Then why do we need this stupid parliament? Let’s abolish is as a cost cutting measure.

    Let’s all talk to each other, resolve issues among ourselves and live happily ever after. Thanks Kejriwal for showing us the way.

  9. M Says:

    A citizen is below parliament but citizenry is above parliament. This is the way democratic system is set up across the world. You cannot as an individual create a law but can ENLIST the support of others for get your choice elected as a MP and enact your legislation.

  10. maisuru Says:

    It tantamount to saying even those who voted against the winning candidate is supreme .This would render parliamentary democracy is redundant. We cannot allow a megalomaniac individuals however well well intended their opinion may be cannot hold a Parliamentary process to blackmail just because few thousands throng their meeting and media goes viral about it. How can a set of self appointed group decide their version of so called Jan Lokpal is panacea for all ills of the system ? Do you think there are no other eminent jurists in the country other than a father and son team ? How can you forget that senior Bhushan was a member of the Janata Government and Santosh Hegde ‘s father was also a senior member of the Janata Party ! Santosh Hegde was appointed as Advocate General of Karnataka by a Janata Government and the fact that he was appointed directly to the SC Bench ( very few in the last 60 years are so privileged ) speaks about his immense political clout. So how apolitical these people however much they deny the same !

  11. KishoreOnShore Says:

    I absolutely agree with what “M” says !!!

    “A citizen is below parliament but citizenry is above parliament.”

    If Kejriwal meant “this” then he’s right… but I really believe he didn’t imply this !!!

  12. Sanjiva Prasad Says:

    I agree with M and Harkol: 1. Citizenry is above parliament.
    2. The constitution is clear in putting citizen’s fundamental rights above parliament (parliament cannot abridge them without changing the constitution, and nature of the constitution of the nation).
    3. Kejriwal means none of these. He means to suggest that parliamentarians should do the bidding of the people (crudely put as “they are our servants”). Prashant Bhushan has also said this — this is fallacious in the context of representative democracy. (Bhushan doesn’t believe in representative democracy, he feels there should be a referendum on virtually every issue) Your MP is not beholden or bound to reflect the views of his constituents on every issue, even if a majority feel some particular way. You elected him or her to apply their mind and conscience to vote a particular way in parliament. Indeed, it’s the parliamentarian’s duty not to be a Yes-man, but a person of integrity. They fail, of course, but that is the ideal. They ought to persuade you to their viewpoint if they differ. Gandhi did that on several issues.

  13. sure Says:

    without commenting on individuals and their comments I’d like to make a few observations and then ask a few questions: the framers of our constitution and the people of India adopted a republic model way back in 1950 as per which “we the people” are the sovereigns and all elected representatives including the President of India who holds the highest constitutional office hold office at the pleasure of the people, to serve the people and their interests. Unfortunately the spirit of the republic has been completely lost and along with the mess that our first-past-the-post electoral system has created we no longer have a truly representative parliament. I now move to the questions: 1. Is parliament truly representative of the people’s aspirations and is the collective conduct of parliamentarians reflective of the people’s will? — the persistent and abysmal lack of quorum, the near unanimity across party lines on protecting the perks and privileges of the elected representatives are but a few sad reminders and examples of what I allude to. 2. Isn’t it time for serious institutional and systemic change instead of hanging on dogmatically to the westminister model which appears to be failing the nation and its people? 3. An electoral system which allows publicly known criminals to seek, win and hold the office of elected representatives and then expect these same individuals to also be the framers of legislation that sends them to jail for corruption needs dramatic and wholesale change no??

  14. K.Balasubrahmanyan Says:

    this needs no discussion and treated as trivia. If an expert on Constitution of India has said this ok. not mr Kejriwal who is just a rabble rouser who will drop out of sight if he is ignored. Just a bubble in soda water. Bala

  15. Narain Says:

    I would like to disagree with the many who disagree with Kejriwal. Please try to understand what he says. Maybe he is not as clear in his communication as we would like him to be, but the fact is the people who elect the parliament are more powerful than the institution created by them. If over the years, the creation has lost its true purpose and has started to work only for the few scondrels who have crept into it, then it is time for the people -you and me- to assert our rights. When we question what the Parliament, our creation, has been doing against our interests, then it is time to dismantle it, set it right, and show the parliamentarians that we, the people do not approve of what you are doing in our name and that we are higher than you,the parliamentarians and the body the Parliament, that have usurped our rights and made us feel powerless. We are not..that is what Kejriwal perhpas wishes us to know and appeals us to assert that everyone of us is above our created structure the Parliament that has sadly gone astray.

    Well, if you, however, approve of all that is happening – the corruption, selling away of our common wealth to enrich the ones in power, the siphoning of our money to overseas accounts, the arrogant attitude – and accept the scroundrels that comprise the ruling party today and whatever they stand for, then it is a different matter. Then their argument holds…parliament is supreme and you can’t question us.

  16. Mysore Peshva Says:

    @sure

    Well said, sir. It is a disingenuous claim, in these circumstances, that Parliament is supreme.

    Of course, as always, the citizen is “higher” than Parliament. The citizen is higher than every branch. He or she is to be served by every branch, not the other way round.

    There are enough lessons from Middle parliament in England to understand the horrific treatment a corrupt, incestuous Parliament can mete out to the individual.

  17. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Mysore Peshva, I assume from your comments that you agree with Jefferson about the necessity of a periodic popular revolution to keep the government, or the state, on its toes ;)

  18. sumakani Says:

    Totally absurd claim by the Babbler Mr. Kejriwal. He is a clear case of double standard. He who has taken study leave with a condition to serve a minimum of 3 years afterwards or remit the salary drawn during the study leave has not done that so far. Apart from that he has claimed in a press conference that Govt unnecessarily targeting him (just like any other Politician when he has committed crime and govt takes up any action) further he has also claimed that the govt have the powers to waive it. Yes it could have waived whether he made out a case for such waiver like, he left the service due to serious illness or the death of the employee( which definitely not applicable in this case). Above all why govt be kind to him because what he has received as salary is not govt money but its once again tax payers money. Further, I initially appreciated the movement thinking that these people have real concerns, but of late understood that it is an agenda of Corporate honchos and media barons. Highly disappointed the way people like Om puri talked about parliamentarians (unpadh, criminals etc.) he has painted everyone in single color and single stroke of a brush.Has he taken pain to go to parliament web-site to find out the education qualification and credentials of the parliamentarians? has he done that exercise he would not have commented like that. That he claimed them as unpadh and giving speech in support of Anna who is a high school dropout.(Studied up to 9th) I believe that academical achievement need not be the only criteria but experience in a specific field also to be respected. These team Anna wants to run a parallel govt or say shadow govt and to safe guard the corporate players. If they are really serous let them first educate the younger generation to live a life in such a way that they will never do any thing which puts them at the receiving end in the eyes of law. The young people who thronged the meetings are the people who bribe the traffic police for talking on cell while driving or without licence or many of who live a crazy night life which they think its their right and when the police catch them, settle with bribing and afterwards give speech about corruption. Make the people to rise above all these, there afterwards there will not be any necessity to bring any law. Gandhi has prepared his follower in to a true Satyagrahi before taking a march against the British. This Anna or Thamma is no where near to Gandhi leave alone treating them like Mahatmas.

  19. harkol Says:

    I liked the cartoon which depicts two guys carrying a ladder, near the Parliament building, one saying “are you sure Anna is above the parliament” and other saying “I trust Aravind Kejriwal”… ;)

    But seriously, the only time Parliament should have a larger debate and inclusion of Civil Society in making laws (or even referendum) is when there is a conflict of interest. i.e. if the required law will deal primarily with the pelf & privileges enjoyed by the representatives.

    We can’t have they regulating themselves. Hasn’t worked for 60 years, won’t work in future.

  20. the colonel Says:

    if i am supreme, why do i need to stand again in an election?

  21. twistleton Says:

    Alas that Kejriwal, even if he wants to, cannot represent the will of the people. Will of the people is a many-headed monster pulling democracy in different directions.

    The will with the loudest voice makes itself heard. If he was an MP then he could make all the claims he wants and they will be legitimate.

    But if he does become an MP he will realize how capricious the will of the people can be :) And then maybe he won’t have the opportunity for such histrionics :D

  22. mysore peshva Says:

    @G3S

    Certainly… “Every generation needs a new revolution” — and Anna sahebru is leading one, Indian style, right now (even though he’s of a different generation!) :)

  23. twistleton Says:

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/cartoon/article2535131.ece

  24. Vijay Says:

    I think this Kejriwal fellow has lost his balance. A citizen cannot be above parliament

  25. gomchikbhoka Says:

    leave all these my friends…………………..media is the real culprit

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