ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dubious Deals

The soul of parliamentary democracy in India was destroyed during the past week.

The story of the trust vote in Parliament will remain asterisked as a terrible moment in the history of Indian parliamentary democracy. Every move in the 10-day long countdown to the vote on July 22 added up to a trail of unprincipled alliances, acts of patronage and alleged payment of bribes – all for the sake of securing a majority for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The Opposition was not to be left behind though as in all such situations it is the party/coalition in power that has more patronage to hand out and more cash to offer.

What happened was not new to Indian democracy. Such sordid drama is regularly performed in state legislatures and has been wit nessed in t he past in Parliament as well – most notably in 1993 when the Congress(I) government of the time manipulated a similar victory in the Lok Sabha. What was new this time was the openness with which promises were made and the blatant nature of the alliances of convenience. From a political party drawing up corporate agendas as a price for support, to bartering cabinet posts for a vote on the floor of the Lok Sabha, to alleged “behind-the-scenes” transactions of multi-crore bribes – they all herald a qualitative transformation for the worse in India’s parliamentary democracy.

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