Democratic Propriety Vs Political Propriety Vs Realpolitik


By Sanjay Sahay

The ushering in of democracy has been at the end of a long drawn and arduous battle, when the Bill of Rights was enacted in 1689. The journey henceforth has also been very checkered in different countries and finally we have different variants of it. More than the variants, the main question in how we practice it. Do we confirm to strict tenets in word and spirit or use the law book depending on our convenience and context, to provide different meanings to the words enshrined. Nonetheless, democracy stands tall amongst all forms for governance and countries which are devoid of it, amongst them large numbers keep struggling for it.

Propriety by spirit of the constitution and the sanctity of its democratic conventions, is what actually the real democracies are made of. There is a general consensus at the subliminal level, way below the operations of regular law books, is what gives strength and utility to this form of Government. This is known as Democratic Propriety. The tangible manifestation of rule of law, due process, law taking its own course, mandate, reins of Govt to be held by the largest elected party, moral responsibility etc is what democratic propriety is made of. It should become a part of democratic DNA which cannot he changed.

We also stated with democratic propriety but over the years it started getting translated into political propriety. Effort to make the best out of the democratic system within the written parameters of laws. Money and muscle power slowly started gaining pre-eminence besides misuse of official machinery during the elections. TN Seshan made immense contribution by a valiant effort to bring back a semblance of democratic propriety in elections, how much he has been able to achieve in retrospect, posterity can decide now. The propriety of the elections is directly proportional to the propriety of its players. This can be called as the birth of political propriety distinct from democratic propriety in India.

Defections had become pandemic in govt. formation and even later. The law of defection tired to control it and it seemed so for some time. Now its showing its dirty head in wide and varied ways. Bye elections to re-mandate is becoming common. The size of the cabinets had become another nuisance that was again controlled by a legal mandate that no more 10% of the elected members can get into the cabinet. Political propriety was marked by the lack of it, whatever might be the political party. Power can then be only glue, nothing else matters. The formation of governments, way different from the mandate, not based on the single largest party formula is the final victory of realpolitik. The show of politicking and power shall go on. There are no ideologies. Only realpolitik works today.



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