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LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY - URGENT NEED OF INDIA

 

(Note: This campaign was launched by the HP in 1985, and its relevance has surfaced now in a big way across the country).

Professional politicians defraud the public trust by not fulfilling their electoral promises.
The lack of a law to penalize this crime enables any adventurer or crook to reach government positions. In order to avoid this political merry-go-round, the HP proposes the immediate passing of a NATIONAL LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY (WITH THE PROVISION TO ADVANCE ELECTIONS, IF REQUIRED).

If you buy a new colour TV set and, when you switch it on, you discover that it only works in black and white, what do you do? You demand an immediate replacement, refund, etc. Don't You?
Well, if you voted for a politician because he promised something during the election campaign and, afterwards, he does just the opposite, what do you do? Until now, it is very little what you can do if the politician and his party betray you in such a way.
When the traditional politicians discuss about the advantages of democracy over dictatorship, their favourite argument is that the citizens can change the authorities if they prove to be inefficient or fraudulent.
But, during five years of government, much is the harm that a lying politician can produce....
Among others, one of the most serious damages is that people start losing faith in democracy as a system.
So, things like this can be heard: "Look, don't tell me anything about politics. This one is politician promised that he was going to fix things up, and he has not done anything. And so have all the others been. I don't want anything to do with political parties. Nobody can change this corruption. Politics is a dirty affair!"
When a big percentage of the population feels betrayed and expresses it in similar ways, we are facing a dangerous situation.
People shy away from political participation and create a void to be filled by all sorts of bunglers, adventurers, crooks, antisocial elements, etc. This lack of active participation in politics serves nobody, except the vested interests of a few.
That is, turning the face away from the problem does not solve it or avert the consequences, but, in fact, the problem gets aggravated.
Besides, it may encourage some prehistoric brains to cherish hopes for some kind of dictatorship (either military or civilian), upon the apparent "failure" of the democratic system.
The democratic system is not, of course, without some deficiencies. Some of them are not to be found in the system itself, but in the society where it is applied. But, democracy can - and must - be perfected, and the channels for this are already there.


"THE PROFESSIONALS" AND POLITICS AS A BUSINESS

But, why does a political party and its candidates promise things that later they do not fulfill?
Is it due to incapacity? deception? miscalculation? corruption? vested interests? It may be a combination of all these factors.
What is certain is that traditional politics such as we know it, is the business of professional politicians meant for grabbing power.
For them, politics is a career and their parties are organized like companies. they are the managers, who occupy top positions. The youth is the manual labour for pasting posters, painting walls and for full-hearted militancy.
And the citizens? We, the citizens, are the customers. And what do we - the customers - want? To improve the conditions in which we live, to progress and grow as individuals and as a social group.
Then, the professional politicians base their election campaigns on what people legitimately aspire for. "We are going to clean the administration", tells one, "We will eradicate poverty", offers another. Others (or the same ones) also promise what some people illegitimately aspire for. "We will kick all the outsiders out", shouts one. "We will establish our supremacy", screams another.
None of them tell exactly how they will achieve what they promise. Nor when. Then, afterwards, the candidate who wins manages things as it pleases him. And, if somebody complains - as it would be in the case of the TV set - the replies are of this type: "There are unforseen complications", or, "I am all too willing, but the opposition is strong (or the cooperation is too weak)", or, "There are other presing priorities to tackle first", or. "We are looking into that matter", etc. this becomes almost boring, unless you receive a lathi-charge instead of apologies...
So, slowly, the feeling of having been cheated by a vulgar market charlatan creeps within us... then comes indifference... the discredit of a system of a government... and society falls into the clutches of corrupt people.
In sum: those who attempt against democracy and the country are the politicians who betray the popular trust and the political parties they belong to which do not take any action against them.


A FRAUD AGAINST THE PEOPLE

All the previous has a solution. It is to provide the citizens with an instrument to get the politician who defrauded them removed from his post.
That is, a LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY by which all the political parties and its candidates have to submit a government programme. This will clearly state - like a contract - the government measures and actions they will take, the estimated date of fulfilment, and the alternative course of action they will take in case something fails, or if natural catastrophes or social commotions delay the application of the plans.
Then, the election campaign will have to comply with this government programme. In case of winning the elections and not fulfilling his electoral commitments, the politician will be submitted to a political trial for the alleged crime of " fraud of the popular trust".
This political trial for MPs, MLAs and Municipal Councillors may proceed upon the request of the concerned houses or the general public of their constituencies.
For the ministers of the Central and State government including the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers also, a similar procedure may be followed based on the request from the people of the whole country or the particular state.
The percentage of public support, the process and the machinery required to carry out these political trials can be worked out by consensus by all the parties.
Meanwhile a public debate and suggestions from the people can also be obtained. Some possibilities are signature campaigns to obtain the necessary public support, a standing body or commission which constantly obtains public feedback on major issues, etc.
The politicians submitted to trial will not be allowed to put forward, as a defense, any apology or justification which was not foreseen in the electoral government programme. And the authorities in charge of the trial will only confine themselves to compare the electoral promises with the concrete facts of government.


THE POLITICAL TRIAL

The political trial is to be brought to the appropriate Judicial Authority and it is to be carried out by a bench of not less than three judges.
In the event of the representative being adjusted guilty under the act, his seat (office) shall fall vacant with immediate effect and all the officers appointed by him shall cease to hold office.
Besides, he should be banned from running for any election or holding a public office during the next two government periods.
However, he shall have an option to obtain a referendum, so that the population of the constituency concerned confirms or vetoes the judgement. If required, the by-election shall be conducted within 60 days at the latest. In the meantime, the concerned offices shall be run as per the provisions of existing laws.
Of course, all this is apart from-and does not supersede- other criminal cases which may be filed against the politician concerned.
As it becomes clear, democracy can be improved. It is all a matter of demanding some more responsibility. Because, can you imagine how little the traditional politicians would talk during their election campaigns, if the non-fulfillment of what they promise were made a crime?
Well, if no politician wants to support this draft of a law now, the LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY will be proposed and passed by the HP when it is in power.
Of course, things would have been much easier if the traditional parties refrained from fielding corrupt politicians as candidates, if they were the first to demand their resignation when they do not meet the standards of efficiency and ethics befitting their posts, etc... But, with the present conditions, this seems to be too much of an ethical stature for them, isn't it?
Anyway, wouldn't it be comforting to listen to something like this, when the opportunity arises? : "Mr So and So, you were voted by the majority of the people for carrying out a government programme. This Honorable Court has found you guilty of the crime of defrauding the people's trust due to your non-fulfilment of your electoral promises.
Thereby, we, the Honorable Court removes you, and the officers you appointed from offices you held so far."


BESIDES.......

This political accountability we propose may also go beyond the unfulfilled electoral promises. The accountability should also be applied systematically to any government action or inaction that constitutes a fraud/crime because:
* it transgresses law (national, state or municipal),
* it transgresses municipal regulations or procedures,
* it does not discharge the stated duties due to leniency, connivance or complicity.
This accountability should not only last while the politician is in office but it should also extend beyond that period.
Besides, those directly affected by any misdeed may claim compensation, either from the government, the government officer personally or from the political party he belongs to. Also, any person or legal entity benefitted by the misdeed will have to return anything unduly acquired, and compensate the party damaged if there was knowledgeable complicity or connivance.
In this way, nobody will take or give what is not right, and both the encourager and the encouraged will be discouraged.


FINALLY..........

The HP is carrying out a nation-wide campaign to draw support from honest and sincere politicians, political parties, lawyers, public institutions and the common people, who are those suffering the consequences of political violence.
At the same time - since the popular feeling regarding our proposal is evident we publicly make a call to any politician, from any political party, to take up the challenge and carry this draft of a law to Parliament to be debated and, ultimately, passed as a National Law applicable to all government levels.
If it is passed, it will be for the benefit of democracy and the whole country. It will clean the administration and renew politics, setting an unprecedented example in the world.
Who will oppose this law and what are the arguments they will use? And who will remain silent ?... It will be for all the people to see and judge.
Anyway, if the LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY is not passed, the Humanists will reach the government and pass it, making it immediately applicable to all the political parties and the HP as well.

 

Wednesday the 24th. Humanist Party - working to build Universal Human Nation
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