Parliament and its Members

Thoudam Chitaranjan Meitei *

Vox Populi, Vox Dei Ie Voice Of People Is Voice Of God

According to French philosopher JJ Rousseau popular sovereignty rests with the people, people is the ultimate exerciser of political sovereignty. In the Preamble of Indian Constitution, it is written that sovereignty is with the people.

But in practice in India, sovereignty is exercised by the people through its elected representatives in the Parliament. So Parliament is the supreme legislative political institution of the Nation reflecting the political aspiration of the people.

Since independence it has been taking the pivotal role in legislation at the National level. So, understanding the functions of Parliament remains a very pertinent and crucial matter since Manipur became a political constituent of India through merger agreement signed on 15th October 1949. As long as Manipur remains as a political constituent of larger Indian Union the indispensability of understanding the function of Indian Parliament will remain.

Broadly Main Functions Of Parliament Can Be Categorised As Below

1. Legislation : The primary mandate of Parliament is to undergo the process for legislation and make relevant and valuable laws. Even though Constitution prescribes the federal spirit by dividing Union list, State list and Concurrent lists, the Constitution prescribes the overriding power to Parliament over the legislation made by the State legislatures under different circumstances. .This can be corroborated from the article 256, 352, 355, 356, 360 etc. Thus, ultimate sovereign power is with the Parliament not with the State legislature.

2. Political Control : Besides legislation, the Government at the Union level is accountable to the Lok Sabha i.e the Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister can remain as a permanent political executive till it enjoys majo- rity in the Lok Sabha. In short, through Parliament controls the political executive.

3. Surveillance Of Administration : The Members of Parliament control the permanent executives through various procedural devices ie, Parliamentary committees, questions, calling attention motion, etc. through the above cited devices, Parliament can control both the permanent executives and political executives.

4. Financial Control : The essence of famous quote 'No Taxation Without Representation' is applied to Indian Parlia- mentary democracy. Thus our Members of Parliament are the sole authority to levy tax and to make legislation related to expenditure. Beside they are having a supervisory function for the spent money whether it has been spent in accordance with the right sprit or laid down norms.

5. Conflict Resolution Function : The political conflict of internal matter and political conflict of external character has to be decided by the Parliament. Notably, handling of foreign affairs is under the domain of the Union list, thus Parliament is the ultimate and sole authority to handle and legislate on foreign affairs.

What Are The Duties And Responsi- Bilities Of An MP ?

The responsibilities of Member of Parliament is to discharge the function of Parliament. Through normal debate and discussion and through Parliamentary committee, they discharge the function of the Parliament ie, legislation, surveillance of administration, financial function, etc. In short, it is the MPs who exercise the sovereignty on behalf of the people.

Is MP Election A Crucial One In This Hour Of Turmoil?

In the book problems of political philosophy, authored by Scottish philosopher DD Raphael, after examining the famous definition of democracy ie Government of the People, Government by the People and Government for the People, he emphasised on the phrase Government by the People.

His views points to the very essence of democracy and that is to have participation in the politics. On the same note Plato also observed that the penalty of not participating in politics is that you end up being governed by inferiors. This inferred the concept that if we don’t participate in politics, somebody will parti- cipate on behalf of us.

Besides, on the backdrop of this ethnic conflict and turmoil in Manipur, the impor- tance of MP increases substantially. The aggravation of situation in Manipur is accentuated by the inactive political participation and deliberation in Parliament.

It has been witnessed that on our behalf MP from Assam Tarun Gogoi, MP D Raja spoke on our behalf on serious note. On another note, political development in our neighbouring country Myanmar directly or indirectly affects the peace, development and stability in Manipur.

But dealing with foreign country ie foreign affairs is put under the Union list which debar State legislative Assembly to make legislation on issues such as border issues, NRC etc.. This further amplifies the indispensability of MP from the State to take part actively in the legislative process regarding foreign affairs. So, through State’s MPs, State interest related to foreign affairs will be secured.

Basis Or Criteria On Which MPs Are To Be Elected

Even though Parliament prescribes qualification for member of Parliament to be a citizen of India, 25 years of age etc, people are often confused and could not become objective in choosing right candidate for Parliamentarian election. On this line, choosing right MP can be done through the asses-ment at two levels viz. assessment at party level and assessment at individual level.

Party Level

Political party ideology is the easiest means for assessment of a political party for consideration for election. Ideology is the set of beliefs upon which the activities of a political party will be based. So on this line, political party may have inclination towards, secularism, pluralism, unity in diversity, ethos of federalism, inclusive-ness, socialistic out- look etc. Others may be inclined towards majorita- rianism, cultural assimila-tion, religious fundamen- talism.

In fact the ideology of the political party should be assessed to see it fits our State or not. Besides, track record and its previous history and performance should also be considered. Last but not the least, manifesto of each political party may be examined minutely to find out which party manifesto is more fit to current Manipur situation.

Assessment At The Individual Level

Educational aspect : Plato in his Republic, emphasised rule of philosopher’s king which gave out the necessity of education to be a public representative. Although Indian Constitution does not prescribe the educational quali- fication for an elected representative, it is desirable to acquaint with certain basic awareness about polity, basic law and Constitution, economy of the Nation, dynamics of politics, dynamics of international politics since logical, explanatory, illustrative and convincing arguments must be based on the said fields.

So our MP must be acquainted with the Constitution and law of India, history, dynamics of politics at State level, National level and international level. An understanding of political development in Myanmar becomes essential as political development in Myanmar has direct or indirect impact on Manipur.

And on another dimension, it is quite conspicuous that our State interest may contradict National interest vice versa, but securing our State interest needs explanatory, illustrative and logical arguments which must be based on history, Constitution and law, economy, political dynamics etc.

Personal Track Record And His Personal Contribution To The Society

Before going to elect a candidate his track record must be studied and examined whether he is involved in the criminal acts and other illegal activities. This helps in preventing crimina-lisation of politics. Besides holistic assessment must be ensured regarding his contribution to the society and his association to societal activities


Integrity is the hallmark of a good statement. Plato in his upheld idea of communism of wives and property where philosopher’s king should not have property and family in order to no have conflict of interest between individual interest and societal interest. His idea may not be right absolutely, but he emphasised the need to maintain integrity. Political corruption is mainly erupted from the crisis of integrity.

Sacrificial And Committed Public Spirit : Candidate with sacrificial public spirit who puts societal and common interest abube the individual and political party interest.

Oratory And Influencing Skill

Since only two MPs represent Manipur in the Lok Sabha, there is high chance of subverting their voice despite they belong to larger national political party if there is conflict between the state’s interest and interest of central government. In order to convince other MP, the MP must have great oratory and influencing skill to secure our political interest.

* Thoudam Chitaranjan Meitei (TC Meitei) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is UGC JRF qualified in Political Science and is former faculty member EESF IAS ACADEMY
This article was webcasted on 19 April 2024 .

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