Pseudo Federalism and Tyranny of Majority

Seemandhra leaders from different parties are repeatedly raising a contention that Indian Federation is under challenge because the Union is dividing a state arbitrarily without obtaining consent of its assembly.  This contention is not fair and bona fide from the political point of view and completely incorrect on the Constitutional front. Almost all those who raised these contentions are politically biased and pathetically opportunistic.  Entire crux of their misinterpretations of Constitutional provisions and anti-Telangana contentions using borrowed vocabulary is about so called ‘capital’ in capital city of Andhra industrial-cum-political-contractors.

India has mostly borrowed the features of Parliamentary democracy from British Constitution, which cannot be categorised as Federal Constitution. The framers of Indian Constitution carefully avoided the federal features as manifest in United States of America with Presidential democracy. After great discussions the political scientists concluded that Indian Constitution created a Union of States, with quasi federal features, which can also be called as cooperative federation.

Then the question is whether Article 3 violates the federal character of the Indian Constitution? The AP High Court Chief Justice with another Justice has held on October 8, 2013 in a politically interested litigation (new form of PIL) analytically explained that by giving plenary powers to Centre, the Article 3 paved way for securing the federalism of the nation. Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sengupta of and Justice K C Bhanu of AP High Court said that Article 3 would not violate any basic structure. The Bench said: Article 3 in our view has empowered Parliament to regulate and preserve Federalism as enshrined in the Constitution.  In that sense, it is one part of basic structure of the Constitution”.  These so called protagonists of Indian federalism opposing Telangana formation have conveniently ignored this judgment which categorically answered the absurd misinterpretation of Articles 3 and 371D.

In a federation, the Centre and States or provinces will enjoy equal status and sovereignty and residual powers are left to the States, but in India – Union is more powerful and residuary powers are given back to Union and not the states. The Second Report of the Union Powers Committee explained the reason for making Centre more powerful:  “Now that partition is a settled fact, we are unanimously of the view that it would be injurious to the interests of the country to provide for a weak central authority which would be incapable of ensuring peace, of coordinating vital matters of common concern and of speaking effectively for the whole country in the international space.”  Dr. Ambedkar listed several features of the Constitution which mitigated the rigidity and legalism of federalism.  Indian states cannot draw their own constitution unlike those of United States.  Only in India the Union Government needed the power to alter boundaries of states because of historic reasons, which ‘leaders’ cannot be blind to.

Dr Ambedkar explained: ‘Indian Federation was not the result of an agreement (or a contract) by the States to join a Federation, and that the Federation, not being the result of an agreement, no State had the right to secede from it. The Federation was a Union because it was indissoluble’. But the states are not indestructible. They can be altered. This is how the rigidity of federalism was prevented from becoming tyranny of majority.

The essential feature of federalism is unimpeachable autonomy for the provinces. But does that mean that the provincial government can subjugate the sub-region within?  If around 3.5 crore people, forming ten districts were allowed to govern themselves within Union of India, after getting relieved of unethical and discriminative rule by other individuals, is it not advancement of federalism? In a democracy, why should Telangana people be denied of their sovereignty and how long they should not share sovereignty? Are they not people, citizen, voters and taxpaying decision makers of this democracy? Which federalist or political philosopher told these intellectual political manipulators that 13 districts should consent for formation of a ten district state?  If 23 districts can enjoy provincial autonomy under principle of federalism, why not 10 districts see such federal autonomy for their region?

What is the capacity of people of 13 districts to decide the life and future of Telangana? They are not asking anyone to go out of country neither they are going, but separating them from a set of geographical borders which denied them their identity, culture, language and deprived them of their resources. Those who killed spirit of integrity have no moral right to talk about federalism.

Consent or consensus

The preachers of ‘federalism’ talk about absence of consent or broad consensus. Before December 9, 2009 and during 2013 several times all political parties expressed their consent, agreement, absence of objection, or claimed they had no authority to divide state, or supported the cause of Telangana state, questioned the delay in decision making by the Union etc.  A jailed and bailed leader go around the country to gain sympathy for their unconstitutional stand and returned with failure.  Today they want a formal consent of Legislative Assembly, where anti-Telangana legislators continue to be in majority who are united to say no.  The leaders took U turns, parties either defected from their commitments or ignored their resolutions and manifestos. With their money, caste and other undue influences Seemandhra could enlist support of some legislators in Telangana also. Some of those elected from constituencies in Telangana, educated or uneducated, behaving same.  Highly educated and highly rich are highly unreasonable.

Is it not unethical and unscrupulous to say that there is no consensus for Telangana formation? The opportunism and defecting from their earlier commitment is glaringly visible as common trait of Seemandhra leaders or legislators of Congress, TDP and YSRCP etc.  Ek-MLA Loksatta is no exception.  In spite of political problems and inconveniences, the BJP and CPI have shown remarkably exceptional ‘no-U turn-positive commitment and consistency’ for division of state. Hence, shouting from top of roof that there is no consent or broad consensus, no negotiated agreement etc is politically immoral contention. After breaching all agreements, GOs, Presidential Orders with Constitutional foundations are violated left, right and center, these leaders are talking about ‘negotiations’ and ‘agreements’.

While talking about consent as precondition for bifurcation of state, these preachers brushed aside states reorganization in 1956, where no formal consent was absent. They interpreted it as ‘broader consensus”. But what the Chairman of the State Reorganization Commission Justice Fazl Ali said at page 101, Para 378, recommending retention of Telangana as separate state clearly stated: “The real fears of the people of Telangana is that if they join Andhra they will be unequally placed in relation to the people of Andhra and in this partnership the major partner will derive all the advantages immediately, while Telangana, itself may be converted into a colony by the enterprising coastal Andhra.” Where is the consensus? The fact that they have converted Telangana into a colony was reason for the prolonged agitation.
Recent events in AP presented unprecedented, peculiar resistance to formation of Telangana which is without parallel in any democracy.  None can site any authority from any corner of constitutional democracy to preach or sermonize about federalism against Telangana.

The stiff opposition has reached the worst level of hate, vengeance and insanity which has terrible potency of kicking up a civil war.  This should be avoided cautiously and consciously for integrity and federal features of Unitary Constitution of India. As the Andhras gained a status of permanent majority, Telangana being minority for ever has to suffer the tyranny of majority. Democracy and federalism does not mean this tyranny, which cannot be sugar coated with nice vocabulary of federalism. This was exactly the purpose and objective of Article 3 as propounded by Dr B R Ambedkar. This Article went through several changes to recognize sovereignty and self-rule desire of people like Telanganites and took the existing shape finally.

Some thinkers in the past initially proposed that the bill for formation of new state should originate from affected state’s legislative assembly. In situation like Telangana this is impossible. Then at second stage, it was proposed to ascertain views of Assembly before Bill is introduced. Now the people are witnessing the way the political managers and manipulation experts are trying to delay the ‘expression of views’ so that Telangana formation is pushed beyond Assembly and Loksabha elections in 2014. Thus, if ascertaining the views is made compulsory, again the welfare of minority will totally be denied. That is why the Constitution is rightly amended to make ‘reference’ to State Assembly sufficient. Article 3 will help two states out of a big state to be federal, sovereign and autonomous. Article 3 is the only way to rescue exploited people like Telangana from opportunists, educated dalals, and stinking rich unethical politicians. Article 3 reflect wisdom of visionaries like Ambedkar who could foresee how a small group of vested interests who invested multicrore rupees in lands converting capital city into real estate hub, can drive the politics of a state into anarchy.

Those who love to hate Telangana raised another point that ‘territorial integrity’ is inviolable. Agreed. But that refers to territory of nation and not the state or district or a block. Very fact that Constitution supports changing territory of state negates this misinterpretation.  For inviolable territorial integrity, which is undoubtedly paramount, creating a separate state for people like Telangana is essential. With Telangana and Telanganas of future, the true spirit of Federalism comes to life, the power gets effectively decentralized. States will not be reduced to municipalities as unreasonably apprehended, but even municipalities and gram panchayats grow strong upholding the real character of federalism.  For these pseudo federalists, federalism ends with two levels- center and state. In fact the real federalism lies in states giving powers and funds to district bodies, municipalities and panchayats. Instead, they pilfered rivers, hijacked electricity wires, diverted resources including the income from one region to another. While clamouring for federalism at national level, leaders should not forget significance of federalism within the states.

President and Parliament are constitutionally presumed to be wise and reasonable. Though 33 per cent of legislators are criminally charged, Parliament is still hoped that it would act reasonably better than a few political criminals whose twisting tongues make them worse than killers and dacoits.

Madabhushi Sridhar

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