Mr. Bhupesh Gupta, M.P., writing in the Republic Number
of the ‘New Age’ has this to say:
“Then there are the State legislature whose powers,
especially in financial matters, are undoubtedly circumscribed
by the constitution. This would seem not only out of
accord with the federal concepts but also inevitably
saps the vitality of the parliamentary system. Already
it is being seen that the growing responsibilities of
the States, in regard to national reconstruction, are
more and more coming up against the constitutional limitations
on the State. Here is a problem of undoubted significance
which Indian democracy will have to solve if only for
its own growth.”
We are particularly glad, of this fact—the Red stamp
of approval has been issued to the problem of States
Vs Centre—which was for a long time branded by the Reds
as a Rightist move. Experience gained at Kerala, has
been the cause for this ‘dawn’—and we are glad of it.
When the D.M.K. placed before the public this issue
in a full-fledged form, that is to say, in a concrete
shape as ‘Dravida Nad’, the Communists were wild, and
became the champions of ‘Unity’ — ‘Bharath one and indivisible’
and such other slogans. In fact even at Amritsar, they
passed a ponderous resolution— ‘to fight tooth and nail,
the separatists.’ We are sure that they are still wedded
to that attitude. They can’t but.
Slowly but surely, they are perceiving the truth and
after getting power at Kerala they are beginning to
realize that the Centre is very powerful; the States
are reduced to what C.R. has aptly put it, “Grant-receiving
The travels of and travails of E.M.S. ought to have
yielded rich lessons. At every turn he is faced with
the massive strength of the Centre. And for every issue,
he has to go to Delhi, for ‘consultation’ and guidance!’
This should have persuaded the Communists to re-read
the Indian constitution. And the result is Mr.Gupta’s
Of course, still in the grip of the idea of ‘Bharath
one and indivisible,’ Mr. Gupta cannot, plead for ‘Separation.’
No! They think that they could and should have the ‘big
cake’, just as the Congress is having. Slice, won’t
But that apart, are we not entitled to ask, if Mr.Gupta
and his group have got an abiding faith and sincere
belief in the idea of ‘Bharath one and indivisible,’
then why should they grudge giving any amount of power
to the Centre? Why should they become advocates for
States’ right, at all? What are States, after all, if
one has got faith in the Unity of India?—Mere administrative
units! Why should the Communists come forward to say,
that the powers of the States are circumscribed?
And where will that lead to?
Intelligently enough, Mr.Gupta has placed the facts
and an analysis, but not the ‘way out’.
The Communists need not have waited for such a long
time to ‘discover’ this fact—no writer on constitutional
matter has failed to present this fact.
If they now argue, that States need more powers, because
they have to carry on much nation-building work, well
then, they have to face this question, ‘why should the
States be considered the legitimate agencies for this
sort of work, the Centre is there and claims an equal
amount of loyalty?’ Why should one consider at all about
the ‘Agency’ —what is important is, the work. So long
as nation-building activity is carried out successfully,
one need not worry about the ‘agency’ through which
it is being carried.
If faced with such questions, the Communists will have
to open still further their eyes and their hearts. They
will have to place before their audience, the whole
history of the connection between the different units
and the Centre. They will have to point out the peculiar
traits to be found, in the Units—the States. They will
have to place the ‘historical background.’ And then
they would find that they are after all placed in the
company of the D.M.K.!
Mr. Gupta prudently avoids all these, by simply placing
the facts, asking his audience to bestow their thought
over this important problem.
It will not be difficult for most of the democrats here
to accept Mr. Gupta’s findings and some, at any rate,
amongst them would be anxious to find out, what plan
he unfolds to mend matters.
“The issue is one which crosses party barriers and embraces
all democratic and patriotic forces and the battle has
to be fought within: the Legislatures and more particularly
Mr. Gupta is after all presenting a powerful peroration—not
a plan of action, unless it be this: vote for the Red
for they have found out and placed before you the fact,
that the powers of the States are circumscribed. He
wants the party barriers too to be discarded and fails
to state, what for?
He has other defects also to point out, in the Indian
Constitution. Says Mr.Gupta,
“The Indian Constitution puts a whole number of curbs
on democratic institutions. Although there is universal
adult franchise there is however no proportional representation.
This undermines the representative character of even
our directly elected legislative bodies.”
The D.M.K., knows this bitter truth—having polled nearly
one-third of what the Congress did, the D.M.K., gained
but 15 seats, while the Congress bagged 150! Had there
been proportional representation the composition of
the State legislature would have been different. True!
But what does Mr. Gupta want us all to do? Agitate for
this proportional representation? He is yet, undecided—and
that is understandable, for, decisions are to be supplied
by a supreme power!
Mr. Gupta has pointed out, two major defects in the
constitution, which means obviously that these defects
should be eradicated which again means that the Indian
Constitution should be amended.
And amendment of the Constitution is no easy affair—unless
the ruling party is for it.
What then should be done?
There should be an intense agitation by all political
parties—Mr. Gupta has been generous enough to overlook
party barriers—for, redrafting the entire constitution,
in the light of the experience so for gained. And in
such a redraft of the constitution, apart from including
such devices as proportional representation, and arming
the State with more powers, there should be a definite
provision for the right of any State, to secede from
the Federal structure, if an overwhelming majority of
the people of that State, so desire.
Nothing but the presence of the possibility of ’seceding’
would act as an effective check on the Federal Centre.
Having come so far, we request Mr. Gupta, to continue
his journey still further, taking bold steps, of course,
and arrive at the ‘appointed’ place.
For this much is certain; so long as there is a feeling
that our State need ‘more powers’, then however much
one might exhibit aversion, he will have to advocate
and fight for the ‘Right to secede.’
But, Mr.Gupta might find it very difficult and even
dangerous, to get the necessary ‘passport’ for the journey
along the fobidden path—we can the however assure him
that there would be absolutely no difficulty in getting
(Editorial - 08-02-1959)