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  Asia-Pacific
Is Deputy Premiere's Office in India Justified?
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani

Despite the fact that there is no special place for the office of deputy prime minister in Indian constitution, by now seven persons have enjoyed this office in India. After independence, first deputy prime minister was Vallabh Bhai Patel, who got a chance to work with the first Prime Minister of free India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. Sardar Patel had also been a successful Home Minister of India. After that from 1967-1969, Morarji Desai remained Deputy Prime Minister with the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 1979, Choudhary Charan Singh & Jagjeevan Ram took this office jointly with the Prime Minister Morarji Desai. This was the first time in India when two Deputy Prime Minister were jointly holding this office. After that from 1979 to 1980, Y.B. Chavan was in charge of this office. Then in 1989-1990, Choudhary Devi Lal held this office with the Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Choudhary Devi Lal again got the chance in 1990-1991 with the Prime Minister Chandrasekhar. Similarly on June 19, 2002, Lal Krishan Advani was given this office as seventh & last Deputy Prime Minister of India.

It is worth knowing that there is no role assigned to the Deputy Prime Minister in the constitution of India & the makers of the Indian constitution didn't feel this need to run the government of the country for the office of Deputy Prime Minister, in spite of it, the country has to bear the burden of Deputy Prime Ministers. As the Indian constitution doesn't have any room for the office of Deputy Prime Minister, so there is neither separate oath taking ceremony for the Deputy Prime Minister nor there is any separate arrangement for seat of the Deputy Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha. In India, the status of the Deputy Prime Minister is equal to other Cabinet Ministers. But it is seen that the persons who hold this office are usually high ranking politicians. Generally the ministers who hold the portfolios of Home or Finance are given this office. Whereas the powers of Deputy Prime Ministers are concerned the Deputy Prime Minister doesn't have any special powers. But if the Prime Minister is not keeping good health or in his absence or during his foreign tour or in case of the death of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Minister takes charge of the office of the Prime Minister. Generally the function of the Deputy Prime Minister is to preside over the meetings of councils of ministers in the absence of Prime Minister.

The office of the Deputy Prime Minister may be a production of Indian political set up. There is a provision of Deputy Prime Minister in the countries as Australia, Canada, Israel, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, North Ireland, Scotland & Wales. There is also a provision for the office of Deputy Prime Minister in the new political structure of Iraq. In Britain, Deputy Prime Minister is also called the Shadow Prime Minister whereas in Germany the associate minister of Chancellor is called the Deputy Chancellor. But besides India, in all the countries, the Deputy Prime Minister has got some additional rights. Then what is the compulsion of appointing Deputy Prime Minister in India? Is it proper to appoint a powerful leader on this unconstitutional office just to have political stability? He may be Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who is remembered as the 'Iron Man of India' or Lal Krishan Advani, a leader of the Hinduism or other five Indian Deputy Prime Ministers appointed in between them. Undoubtedly all these had their influential role in the politics of the country. But we can't deny the fact that by accepting this unconstitutional office of Deputy Prime Minister, all these expressed their greed for power. Among the Deputy Prime Ministers of India, the two Deputy Prime Ministers Morarji Desai & Choudhary Charan Singh were fortunate enough to hold the office of Prime Minister of India. But for the last few days there is a controversy in India on the name of Lal Krishna advani in which he has shown his desire to be the Prime Minister.

Lal Krishan Advani has a claim to show his desire for being a Prime Minister that as in British Political System, in India too the claimant of this office should be the leader of the opposition party. But in reality the reason for his desire of Prime Minister's office is that he remained the Information Minister of India from 1977-1979 & after that he was Home Minister in 2002 & afterwards the Deputy Prime Minister of the country. But it may be said the political misfortunate of Advani that the way to Prime Minister's office was never clear for it. As a result of it, Advani's political journey couldn't go far from the Deputy Prime Minister's office & couldn't reach the Prime Minister's office. In the last days, in an interview to a T.V. Channel Advani said that he was desirous of being a Prime Minister but he had no hope of being his name proposed through Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

I don't see any leader of first line or second line in the Indian politics who is not ambitious of sitting on the chair of the Prime Minister of India. Specially in the Indian politics where there has come a new tradition of coalition governments, where Chandrasekhar, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, H.D. Devegoda & I.K. Gujral, the person who had comparatively low political position, became Prime Ministers there, to think of sitting on the chair of Prime Minister by Advani can neither be said wrong nor impossible. It can't be put off by saying Advani's mere imagination or personal ambition because his political life remained full of hard struggle & political achievements. His handling of many a time president ship of national political parties as Bhartiya Janta Party & Jansangh, his appointment as at many important ministerial ranks & an honour to be a Deputy Prime Minister & at present to be the leader of opposition in the Indian parliament are his important political achievements. After that in his political career, there only remains the chair of Prime Minister. Vajpayee by giving Advani the status of Home Minister & Deputy Prime Minister in his cabinet has tried to give this message in the Indian politics that after Vajpayee, Advani is the leader of highest rank. But in reality, if Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted it himself to propose the name of Advani as Prime Minister of India, even then it was difficult task for Vajpayee to get for him the chair of Prime Minister. Its main reason is that impression of Advani has become as a fundamental Hindutvavadi leader. Even too last year, during his visit to Pakistan, Advani called Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, a secular leader. Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh openly opposed this statement of Advani. Despite all these efforts, Advani & Sangh couldn't succeed to mitigate the impression of Advani as communal & Anti-Muslim leader.

79 years old Lal Krishan Advani who was born in 1927 in Karachi (Pakistan) may not be able to realise his dream of being a Prime Minister as all the Prime Ministers of India had an impression of a secular leader. Vajpayee is known as a secular mask of the party even though Bhartiya Janta Party is known to be a representative of Hindutvavadi thought. But Vajpayee, by giving a status of Deputy Prime Minister to Advani has proved that Advani's political status is not below any other leader. Usually, more or less, the office of Deputy Prime Minister is given to those leaders who have a claim for the chair of Prime Minister or just for the political bargaining for coalition government. That's why; this unconstitutional office is filled up. All the governments of state of India are now following the footsteps of central government. In many states, Deputy Chief Minister is nominated & powerful political leaders are installed on this unconstitutional status. In India, there is a strong need to abolish such useless & unconstitutional ranks so that the public money spent on the political satisfaction of the leaders may be used for the development of the country.



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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes in a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.

 

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