The ABM (anyone but Modi) brigade is continuing its crusade against the new prime minister, mainly for the killings of Gujarat 2002, for alleged authoritarianism in governance and the “polarisation” of electoral politics. The pro-Narendra Modi campaign is run on the plank of “development”, almost completely oblivious to the global debate around it. While the campaign points out that the new government won 31.6 per cent of the votes, which translates into 282 parliamentary seats and gives the NDA coalition a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, the ABM brigade points out that this vote share does not amount to a national majority. The campaign promises “inclusive growth”; the brigade points to the “exclusion” of Muslim MPs in the ruling party. Both supporters and opponents ignore Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s conclusion that inclusion can only be strategic “exclusive inclusion”.
This article is focused on the fact that the government inherits from the UPA 60 bills in the Rajya Sabha, 68 having lapsed in the Lok Sabha. Completing the legislative business of the last Parliament, much of which had received the BJP’s assent at the time, will define legislative governance now. Presently, how the government translates its manifesto promises into regulation will also become crucial.
In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP has just 42 of 245 seats. Elections in some states in 2015 may change the situation somewhat for the NDA, but it will have to find allies to deliver its legislative agenda. The device of joint sessions may not help with the routine business of Parliament. Only three joint sessions have been called: in 1961, 1978 and, most recently, in 2002 ,to pass an anti-terrorism legislation that was later repealed. Would the president summon these as a matter of course? Moreover, a joint session cannot be called on constitutional amendments, impeachments and emergencies.
Much depends on floor management. Much also depends on the style of the prime minister and his cabinet: he may, as his election speeches suggest, use his powers wisely and well, or he may be advised to use only his super-majority powers. Only time can tell. The issue lies beyond the magical “Modi moment” (as Pratap Bhanu Mehta puts it). That moment was about the acquisition of power. What now matters is its wise use.
The justices do not watch election results, or so constitutional theory tells us. Constitutional history tells a different story. Citizen-justices watch election results carefully, some even avidly. The point is, except for the rare party-political judicial aspirant, they hardly decide the future of adjudicatory policy in accordance with election results.
Yet, justices do not just decide the cases and controversies that come before them; they also decide on how they should decide. For example, the “tyranny of …continued »