Should we opt for the Presidential system?
The possibility of an unstable government at the center is as real as the fact that the era of coalitions is here to stay and at least in a foreseeable future no single party maybe able to lead the union government.
The outcome of the 15th Lok Sabha will be no different and it is certain that a coalition government either with the participation or support of the two national parties, the BJP or the Congress is going to be formed. The result of this is that there just cannot be a strong leader if it is a multi party coalition. Therefore to suggest that a UPA or NDA or any other coalition will be both strong and stable is in a way a contradiction of sorts. Ever since the coalition era started, only Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh have been able to make a mark largely because of their flexible nature. Both leaders had tremendous respect in their individual parties and both acquitted themselves creditably. But both of them acquired a national stature only after assuming the office of Prime Minister. It is true that Vajpayee had been around for nearly 50 years in public life but then the BJPâ€™s area of influence was limited and he therefore could never get acceptability beyond the regions where the Saffron flag fluttered until he became Prime Minister. Singh was similarly Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao government but he too got to be known only because of his office. This problem is going to be encountered by many future leaders too unless there is someone like Rahul Gandhi who has inherited the political legacy of the Nehrus and Gandhis who ruled India for most of the period in post independence era.
I have been of the view for very long that the Westminster model of governance, which we abide by as per our constitution, has its limitations in a coalition type of politics. The Congress has shrunk in its reach and presence. The BJP has not been able to replace it as a truly all India party. Therefore if you take out the Nehru-Gandhis, there is hardly any leader who can be regarded as a truly national player with an appeal in every nook and corner of the country. The way things are and with over 40 players at the national level representing as many parties, it is extremely difficult to produce a leader whose acceptability is across the board and who is recognized as one by the common people of this country. Therefore, it could be an apt time to once again start the debate on the change of system in this country though this can only be finally brought about through constitutional amendments by Parliament or if a new Constituent assembly with the concurrence of two third majority is set up.
There are bound to be many points in favour or against the change of our system. One point which is clearly in favour of a presidential form of government is that it would end the ambiguity about authority and hold one person responsible for any wrong decision or a situation where decision making is put into abeyance leading to all round difficulties. Secondly and more importantly when a presidential poll takes place, the whole country will participate in a process to elect one person. The elected person will therefore automatically become a national leader and in a way the person whom he defeats too will have a national stature. This way, instead of being led by non descript leaders from regional parties, the country will be led by someone it chooses and not someone who is foisted as a result of fractured mandate by members of Parliament who play according to the convenience of their respective parties.
A lot more can be written on the issue but to begin with some thought must be given to changing our system. The time is now, as we all know that the 15th Lok Sabha poll results could lead to a short-lived government and an uncertain complexion in our Parliament. It is the right time to begin the debate.