ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ideal Specimen of Democracy


In the formal electoral and institutional politics of India, defection to and assimilation within, or accommodation into, the ruling party or a party with strong chances of becoming one, has been occurring on a regular basis. This occurrence probably has adverse implications for the moral quality of democracy. Arguably, to enrich and sustain such a quality depends on the constitution of an ideal specimen whose self-respect as an intrinsic value depends on their own assessment as to whether and how much they have actively and continuously consulted the voters while taking the decision of transferring to another party. The cultivation of intrinsic value depends on a particular representative’s ethical stamina to acquire self-respect by showing robust commitment to stand by the aspirations of the people who elected them. It is this commitment to safeguard one’s self-respect that makes the ideal specimen irreplaceable. Ethical expectations can be built on a people’s representative who assigns priority to moral good, such as self-respect as an intrinsic value, and correspondingly shuns the value which is instrumentally seductive. Arguably, moves such as defection have muddled instrumental value.

Political moves such as defection are ethically objectionable as they seemingly involve the breach of the electoral mandate that helped the defecting representative to reach political institutions such as state assemblies or Parliament. The decline of the moral quality of democracy, however, holds both the defector and the party, which is the beneficiary of such defection, responsible for the slide. Defection that is motivated purely by individual interests, and not endorsed by the public reason that was expressed in the voter’s choice on ethical grounds, results in the loss of self-respect. Those defectors who choose to exist in the sphere of pragmatic politics, however, lack the power of liberating conviction. Such conviction has the function to motivate a person, including ­people’s representatives, to transcend not only their limits but the limits of the party that manages to enjoy the power to convert the representative into an actual or potential defector.

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Updated On : 7th Aug, 2019
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