As the decisive battle of 2024 draws closer by the day and restiveness grows, alignments and realignments will also become more apparent. The tragedy is that while the image of Narendra Modi and his regime has taken a severe beating, there is still no visible alternative in sight. As a matter of fact, the entire opposition seems to be going from one crisis to another. A few state parties do give some hope and the possibility of a federal front with chief ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra and possibly, a couple of Congress chief ministers making common cause, does hold some promise in the short run. The point though is, whichever way one looks at it, there is little doubt that in any future permutation and combination, the Congress may not have a leading role to play but it will still have a significant presence. Its present state of dysfunction, therefore, is a matter of worry and concern for a very large number of people outside the normal periphery of Congress supporters and traditional voters. A party without a President and without a functioning Working Committee is not likely to instill hope in its ability to provide any kind of leadership in the near future.Continue reading Mission 2024, the Congress and Beyond
Guest post by RUCHI GUPTA
The past couple of months have seen a renewed attack on the National Advisory Council (NAC). The NAC has been decried as an unconstitutional, undemocratic, “super-cabinet” where unaccountable “jholawalas” hatch harebrained schemes guaranteed to run the government aground. Another line of criticism has focused on the process of the formation of the NAC, its space within the Indian Constitution, and its capacity to influence policy. The two criticisms merge with the demand to disband the NAC on the count that the NAC does not have to face the outcome of its recommendations, and by virtue of it being chaired by the head of the ruling Alliance, can arbitrarily force the implementation of its recommendations.
There is however, a need to examine how the NAC has functioned, what it has done, as well as understand the space it occupies in the policy-making paradigm of the country. While the concerns about the legitimacy of the NAC relate to important issues of Constitutionality, the criticism about the nature of its policy recommendations is motivated by ideology and is of much less relevance to its impact on democratic processes.
It is true that the NAC is an entity created to give the leader of the ruling alliance a role in policy making. Nevertheless, partly through the kind of members chosen, and the norms of functioning it has evolved, it has opened up the otherwise closed and secretive processes of formulation of law and policy, beyond its own membership to citizens groups and people with expertise. It can, in fact with some effort become a platform to further a more just and participative democracy. In this essay, we deconstruct the NAC and situate it in its political context to understand both its pitfalls and potential.