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Constitution amendment to curb powers of Rajya Sabha is a necessity
November 26 will henceforth be celebrated as National Constitution Day. On 26 November 1949 Dr. B R Ambedkar presented the draft Constitution to the Parliament, which was subsequently accepted and implemented from 26 January 1950, which we celebrate as Republic Day.
For the first time, a 2-day debate (26-27 November 2015)started in both the houses of the Parliament on commitment to the Constitution. I watched the debate with earnestness and learnt a lot about the Constitution. I also took time to read it. I think every Indian should read the Constitution to know how our country was governed, is governed and should be governed.

While I salute those who had drafted the world's biggest written Constitution for the largest democracy of the world, I am of the opinion that the Constitution needs to be reviewed from time to time to make it contemporary and relevant. Chills ran through my spine when I heard Mr. Mallikarjun Khadge, Congress leader in Lok Sabha, saying that there would be bloodshed if any attempt is made to change the constitution.

His statement made no sense as the Constitution had been amended at least 100 times since it was first made and most of these amendments were made by the Congress only, which is not surprising as it ruled our nation for most part of post-independence era. During the 42nd amendment in the 1970s when Indira Gandhi was the PM, 'Socialist' and 'Secular' were the two words added to the preamble of the Constitution along with curbing of powers of the third pillar of democracy namely judiciary.

However subsequent amendments restored the power of the judiciary, but the two words still appear in the preamble of our Constitution. Mr. Khadge's remark was a reaction to the comment of Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh who said that secularism is grossly misutilised in politics and there is a need to review the actual meaning of secularism.

Mr. Khadge should remember that our forefathers had given a provision of Constitution review and amendments if deemed fit. The Congress did that when they were in power and other parties have the right to do so when they form the government. Therefore his threat of bloodshed is uncalled for and undemocratic to say the least.

Constitution amendment is a process and will happen when it is required. However I want to highlight one pertinent issue, which is as follows.

PM Modi got an overwhelming majority during Lok Sabha election 2014. But he seems to be helpless in moving his reforms as NDA does not have majority in Rajya Sabha. He is dependent on opposition's grace and favor for passing the bills.

With the Congress as opposition nothing goes through RS smoothly and the walkouts and logjams make the matter worse. It is an unenviable position for the government. This is probably the reason why PM Modi invited Sonia Gandhi for tea where he will ask her cooperation in passing bills, most importantly GST, in Rajya Sabha. If an elected government faces difficulty like this, then I wonder how it is going to fulfill the promises made to people during elections. This is not ideal and something has to be done.

MPs are directly elected to Lok Sabha (LS), whereas they are either nominated or indirectly elected for Rajya Sabha (RS). My point is why the RS should have the higher power than the Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha is for keeping the interests of the state, but unfortunately it is governed by party's stand rather than the interest of the states.

This is the case with many democratic countries. Realizing this folly their constitutions were amended to reduce the power of the upper house and make the lower house stronger and more meaningful. When our Constitution was made, it took inputs from Constitutions of many countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Ireland and Australia. When these countries had amended their constitution, why can't we do the same with ours?

A meaningful insight has been given in this regard by Mr. Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, BJD Loksabha MP from Odisha, through a blog in TOI.

The basic idea is LS has to be strong. RS is the platform to review bills from all angles and keeping the interests of state in mind. It may stop a bill temporarily and return to LS with its observations. If it passes again in LS, then the bill has to be passed in RS. This will give the elected government a level playing field and the people of India shall be the beneficiary.

We are talking about our commitment to the Constitution in LS and RS. It is high time to consider proposals for its betterment so that the people of India can be served better. Irrespective of the party line all MPs should think about it. No party remains in opposition or government forever. So any useful amendment is good for people as well as the party. Reviewing the powers of RS is surely a worthwhile requirement. Mr. Panda had made a beginning. I hope others will follow the suit and debate it in the Parliament.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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