A ‘Responsible Government’ or an ‘Answerable Government’ can be briefly described thus: The country should be ruled by the citizens; however, lakhs of people cannot rule at the same time. Therefore, they will elect their representatives. These representative convene an Assembly, which is what is known as a ‘Legislative Assembly’ or ‘Parliament.’ Many people will come up seeking to be elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly. They will be made to stand as ‘candidates’ or ‘aspirants’ and in their support, parties get established. In this manner, a person who would have become a people’s representative would, in real sense, become a representative of his party. Whichever political party has more people, the leader of that party becomes the Chief Minister, and he will select people from his party into his cabinet of ministers. A government run by the cabinet of ministers formed in this manner may remain in power for a period of four or five years. However, it can be toppled from its seat of power by the Legislative Assembly whenever it decides. Either by passing a ‘No-confidence Motion’ or by rejecting a prominent issue raised by the government, the cabinet of ministers can be defeated. Since this opportunity exists, the parties that do not obtain the power of the government will always yearn to climb to power; as a result, signs of ‘No Confidence’ and display of opposition occurs on a weekly basis. Thereafter, it becomes rather common for the other parties to rake up gossips and rumours across the State about the previous cabinet, accuse them of lapses, and try to deny the previous party from getting an opportunity to contest in the forthcoming elections.
In this manner, since different political parties in the State battle for ministry, it was called a ‘Government of Ins and Outs’ or ‘Flipping Government.’ In that country, there were two political parties. If one party was within the government, the other would be outside. The decision of which party will be inside and which will be out, is solely dependent on the voter’s mind-set on that particular day.
Unnatural System of Governance
‘Responsible Government’ was an extremely new kind of system that our common people had not understood. The people in England and Canada might have been aware of it. As far as India was concerned, it was completely new. Even in the continent of Europe, the system of ‘Responsible Government’ was rather uncommon in the olden days. England is the original home of this system of administration, and it is quite normal for that region. For our nation, it was artificial.
Indian leaders embraced this unnatural, alien system without examining it thoroughly and without any basis in experience. That system was suitable for their theoretical, bookish, and merely logical brains. But in many instances, experience at work and dry, textual logic do not follow one another. A music recital by somebody who has learnt music only from books, the cooking of a person who has learnt the culinary arts purely from reading – these illustrate the deficiency in theoretical education. The intellectuals and pundits who drafted the Indian Constitution were scholars of books.
Let that be so. One must admit that their undertaking was extremely challenging. After the British left India, they had to choose some system of governance, isn’t it? In such a difficult situation, let us assume that they formed the current system. Let us also assume that the system is largely convenient. But was it the common men and women of Mysore who requested for that system of governance to be brought to their region? No. Around that time, a majority of people in Mysore did not know what a ‘Responsible Government’ was and were unaware of its various pros and cons. Today, even after twenty years, I cannot be sure that the inner sense of that phrase ‘Responsible Government’ has been understood. A foreign sentiment, which is alien to people, was approved for this State by a few leaders. They came forward and stood as though they were the State’s representatives, and as if their words stood for the whole citizenry, they agreed to Delhi’s terms – and according to their instructions, annexed Mysore. I was one of their followers.
In this manner, the system of ‘Responsible Government’ came to Mysore unnaturally; it came from outside. It didn’t grow from within us. Since it was far too alien to us, we have not understood its character and nature.
Rule of the Parties
It is difficult for something that is not ours to suit us. How would we look if we wore the coat and turban of some random wealthy fellow, just because someone said they looked regal? How will it be if a giant shirt tailored for someone like Bhīmasena is worn by somebody thin and weak? How will it be if Hiḍimba’s turban was worn by Hanumayya? Such is our plight.
We wanted the rule of the people (a democratic State); what we got instead is the rule of the parties.
What we wanted was a trouble-free government. The government has to accommodate the peace of mind necessary to lead our lives according to our will. Peace of mind is indeed kṣema (wellness). In the oft-repeated phrase ‘yoga-kṣema,’ which we employ casually, there are two expressions – ‘yoga’ and ‘kṣema.’ Yoga means gain – i.e., earning the things that we need, acquiring what we desire. Kṣema means the wellness or the peace of mind we require, to enjoy what we have earned and acquired. The summary of the śloka
rājā dhārmiko bhavatu
that is recited in the devālayas after offering the mantra-puṣpam is as follows:
May the king be virtuous!
May the country be free from misery!
The land should be free from distress. However, it is our experience that the State that we have brought upon ourselves has been constantly distressful for the last twenty-five years. What is the reason behind this misery? I am not competent to say that it is because of democracy. The reason for this agony seems to be the peculiar form of democracy that we have brought upon ourselves, which gives greater prominence to the party and is an organization—or disorganization—called the ‘Responsible Government.’ Competition between parties, mutual hatred and envy, divide that forms between citizens, confusions, and constant conflicts – these are the most prominent evils in today’s politics. This is the best illustration for the Tamil proverb ‘Kettāṇḍapaṭṭiyār ku kalahame kalyāṇam’ (loosely translates into: ‘For those hailing from Kettandapatti, rebellion is [as joyous an occasion as] marriage’).<> The Congress party, which began with achieving unity, has now attained its completion through people’s disunity, fights, and scuffles.
The politics of clashes and dilemmas doesn’t suit the temperament of Indians. It is not appropriate for their lives and lofty goals.
This is the third part of an English translation of the thirteenth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.