Democracy is the Best thing to have happened to India. It has its own issues, Merits and Demerits, its own charm and its own fun. Most of the times, the Electorate is not ‘Captive’ and its free-will makes its Voters Taste and Test various ideologies, Manifestos and Plans as well as its own ‘idiosyncrasies’ and ‘Inconsistencies’. Sometimes, like in India a Family runs the Government for years and is blamed for its poor governance, cronyism and Corruption. A New Government then takes shape and people vote for it with Hope and Expectations. Sometimes the period lasts full term of 60 months – sometimes, with Coalition becoming ‘Dharma’ of Democracy – the Governments fall in as low as 13 days – leading to New Elections. Yet, that’s the Fun in living in a Democracy. A Voter gets to Choose !
As the Modi Government of NDA in India completes its 100 days ‘HoneyMoon Period’ many in Media are conducting Polls, publishing Achievements and where the Government failed to fulfill or came slow or did nothing about the Public aspirations – TV, Newspapers, Websites are full of articles and Social Media is abuzz about the Good or Bad 100 days that we have seen of a New Government.
That is not the topic I would discuss today. One of the things strong on my mind for past 10 years has been the Need of a Shadow Cabinet in India.
- What is The Shadow Cabinet: Shadow Cabinet is a feature of the Westminster system of government.
- It comprises a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mark each individual member of the Cabinet.
- Unfortunately, for the Congress Party in India, The Lok Sabha Speaker has not granted LOP status ( Leader of Opposition) to the 2nd largest party quoting precedent. This poses several problems including in very senior appointments like LokPal which requires the LOP consent.
- With the Ruling Party not being in majority in the Upper House ‘Rajya Sabha’ – this can complicate things for the Ruling party in getting crucial Bills passed and slow down its plans of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’ thereby not allowing it to fulfill its poll promise of “Good Days Ahead” or ‘Achche Din”.
During the Elections, this writer had written comments about the need for a Shadow Cabinet idea and not just Election Manifesto but Concrete Plans by the Opposing parties being kept ready once they Win and assume power.
Coalition ‘Dharma’ makes things complicated. It makes you adopt willy-nilly the ‘CMP or Common Minimum Programs’ and give way to your populist/ better thought plans and ideas.
Members of a shadow cabinet are often but not always appointed to a Cabinet post if and when their party gets into government.
- It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to criticize the policies and actions of the government, as well as offering an alternative program.
- In most countries, a member of the shadow cabinet is referred to as a Shadow Minister
Many of the Actions which BJP / NDA Government took for example the Departure of ‘Unwanted Governors’ – the Closure of the Planning Commission et al appeared to be done out of whim and not as per a Plan.
The appointment of the Prime Minister’s Advisor who was ex-Chairman of TRAI had to be done with an Ordinance and debated in the Parliament. None of the above steps were in the public domain or expected. While they may have been on the fond wish list of the supporters.
Probity in public life can be enhanced with a strong opposition. Voice of Dissent within the party can also be heard and not muffled. A strong Shadow Cabinet can give the Government a feeling of getting to play a ‘Kho-Kho’ game in which tables can turn. This can work as a deterrent for complacent governments and also positively for Good Governance.
- In Canada, however, the term Opposition Critic is more usual.
- In the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and in New Zealand, the term“spokesperson” is used instead of “shadow”.
- In Australia Shadow Cabinet of Australia(Australian Labor Party) (Bill Shorten)
- In New South Wales New South Wales Shadow Cabinet (Australian Labor Party) (John Robertson)
- In The Bahamas Shadow Cabinet (Progressive Liberal Party) (Perry Christie)
- In Canada Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet of the 41st Parliament of Canada(New Democratic Party) (Thomas Mulcair)
- In Ontario Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet of the 40th Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario) (Tim Hudak)
- In France
- Contre-gouvernement (counter-government), dubbed by the media “cabinet fantôme” (literally : ghost cabinet). (Union for a Popular Movement) (Jean-François Copé)
- In Ireland Opposition Front Bench (Ireland) (Fianna Fáil) (Micheál Martin
- In Israel Shadow government (Israel) (Kadima) (Tzipi Livni)
- In Italy Shadow Cabinet of Italy (Governo ombra) (Walter Veltroni)
- In Japan Democratic Party of Japan (Banri Kaieda)
- In Lithuania Shadow Cabinet of Lithuania (Šešėlinis kabinetas) (Andrius Kubilius).
- in Malaysia Frontbench Committees (Pakatan Rakyat) (Anwar Ibrahim)
- In New Zealand Official Opposition (New Zealand) (New Zealand Labour Party) (David Cunliffe)Frontbench Team of Phil GoffFrontbench Team of David ShearerFrontbench Team of David Cunliffe
- In Romania Shadow Cabinet (Romanian: Cabinetul din umbră)
- In Slovenia Expert Council of the Slovenian Democratic Party
- In Solomon Islands Shadow Cabinet of Solomon Islands (Democratic Party and allies)
- In South Africa Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (South Africa) (Democratic Alliance) (Mmusi Maimane)
- In Thailand Shadow Cabinet (Democrat Party) (Abhisit Vejjajiva)
- In Ukraine Shadow Government (Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk)
- In United Kingdom Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (United Kingdom) (Labour) (Ed Miliband)ScotlandShadow Cabinet (Scottish Parliament) (Scottish Labour Party) (Johann Lamont)WalesOfficial Shadow Cabinet (National Assembly for Wales)(Welsh Conservative Party) (Andrew RT Davies)
Do Let me know what you think?