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Arguments For Presidential System of Government in India
Horse trading of legislators as alleged in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka has brought focus on declining values in politics and political parties in India. Limitations of parliamentary system in India is cited as the underlying reason for this phenomenon.
Parliamentary system’s limitations in India:
Parliamentary system was devised in Britain whose population and diversity is low. Political traditions in Britain makes parliamentary democracy a workable system.
- Each party in Britain has a set of policies, preferences, ideals which differentiate it from other parties.
- Politicians prescribe to policies and ideals of a certain party. Moving between parties is seen negatively both by people and parties.
- Legislature is seen as vital to uphold government accountability rather than path to executive power.
Political trends in India show different traditions:
- Legislative power is seen as a bridge to executive power. Parliamentary system with the executive drawn from the legislature is aiding this.
- Focus on politics rather than governance: Governments with small majorities makes them prone to engineered political defections. This makes parties more focused on politics rather than governance.
- Multiplicity of political parties without any set idealsand only based on self-interests. In a coalition system this becomes a hindrance to decision making and destabilizes the government with changing coalitions.
- Due to lack of set ideals of parties, people vote for individuals. This is leading to the rise of populism and authoritarianism. Instead of evaluating individual candidates in constituencies, people are voting based on caste, religion and candidates for chief minister or prime minister.
In particular, focus on executive power as main goal of politics leads to following challenges:
- Horse trading and defections where ministership is offered to defectors.
- Legislation suffers as legislators become rubber stamps. Whips by parties with and voting on party lines limits legislators in upholding accountability of the executive to people.
- As voting occurs along party lines, outcome is predetermined. Hence parties view debates as useless and resort to disruptions. It can be seen in reduced time of debates on bills, in question hour and other avenues for discussions.
In addition, as the parliamentary system draws the executive from the legislature, it limits the choices for people to be appointed in executive. Executive positions are depending on who is electable and not who is able. Although Rajya Sabha has provision for experts, it is being used to elect full time politicians rather than experts.
Considering this, the Parliamentary system is seen by critics as a failure in Indian setting. Presidential system is suggested as an alternative to overcome the limitations in Indian political culture.
Presidential system – a solution and its counter points:
- A directly elected chief executive at all levels – Centre, state and local would provide security of tenure to them. This leads to focus on governance rather than political management
- Executive can be drawn from experts all over the country.
- Voters can differentiate between legislators and the executive. They can vote for a president and evaluate him/her based on their performance.
Counterpoints to presidential system in favour of parliamentary system are:
- Presidential system can result in authoritarian and dictatorial presidents.
- But in India’s parliamentary system with centralized parties, prime ministerial dictatorship.is possible as legislatures turn into rubber stamps.
- Further, powers of the president can be balanced by powers of directly elected state chief executives.
- Parliamentary system has enabled participation of Indians in the political process and kept the nation together.
- But this is due to democratic right of voting and participation rather than parliamentary system.
Considering this, the presidential system presents an alternative to the parliamentary system.
Declining values of the political system is leading to loss of trust of people. We need to have a democracy which delivers governance and progress to people. Hence the solution of the presidential system in addressing issues must be carefully studied. If found suitable to India, political will must be shown to change the system.
- What are the limitations of the parliamentary system in India? Can the presidential system be an alternative to overcome these limitations? Discuss. [15 marks, 250 words]