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For Promises to Keep

Crimes are committed every day across the world, and it is obvious that one must’ve felt its effects at some point or the other. After pitying the victim, some choose to remain content that they didn’t fall prey to such a calamity and keep faith in their guardian: the government. The government, being the writer and enforcer of law, cannot violate it, for that would lead to anarchy — right? Can we really trust the government to keep itself in check, though? Well, the answer is, more often than not, a resounding ‘no’, as it may continually betray its nation by not following the manifestos of grand electoral campaigns.

As is clear, a government in a democracy is formed after elections take place, and usually means one party or a coalition gains a simple numerical majority in Parliament. It’s equally clear that this party was elected for a reason: it was given the mandate to govern and administrate the nation according to the policies it proposed. While these policies can be of any type and subject to endless debate on the merits and demerits, that is not the question here. They were the very basis on which citizens voted. Since democracy enshrines the will of the people, isn't it strange that some parties blatantly disregard their manifestos after being elected? Even stranger is that a party can go back on these very policies and yet be a candidate in the next election. A public lie is a crime, a crime that insults the electoral process and the system itself.

Before moving on, let me make it clear that these assertions are not just mere conjecture. There is evidence of this treachery occurring today, where across the world, nearly every leader has often failed to keep at least one promise. With Narendra Modi, it was the Aadhar scheme. After repeatedly criticising it during his election campaign, he improved and expanded it while in power. Donald Trump went a step further. After an infamous election, this demagogue shocked many by praising NATO and welcoming Chinese investment, all contrary to the infamous "Make America Great Again" rhetoric used during the campaign. I am not saying that the fulfilment of these promises would benefit the country, but that they were what the people wanted, or else these leaders would not have been elected to this office in the first place. Therefore, it is the duty of these leaders to carry out these promises, as they are just representatives of a much larger body. A body in whose hands lie millions and millions of innocent civilian lives.

So how does one ensure a government acts according to the wishes of its people? One can’t expect it to always fulfil every single pledge, as there will be obstacles along the way. While formulating such a procedure, it is important to realise that the government is arguably the most powerful institution in a nation. Therefore, only a regular inspection of the government can enforce such a law, which in this case would come from the judiciary. In my opinion, individuals should be allowed to register cases in court if a leader doesn’t consider the tenants of his own winning document—a published declaration of intentions.

Regrettably, to echo the words of the 44th Chief Justice of India, these manifestos are becoming "mere pieces of paper." If the party truly believes in its manifesto, it will do its utmost to fulfil it, and this is merely enforcing that. The next aspect of the implementation of such a law is the severity. To what extent should the government be punished in case they commit a crime? The judiciary should evaluate the attempts made by the government to fulfil a pledge or ascertain the reason for not fulfilling it with an even hand. Only repeated cases of failure would give the judiciary the ability to punish. This power would have to be validated with the 2/3rd majority support of the opposition in the legislature and can extend to impeachment, if necessary. This, in my opinion, would be a suitable measure, as it gives neither entity an upper hand. As a final thought, I would advocate for more detail in political manifestos, along with steps as to how implementation would occur if the party came into power. This would lead to more transparency during the election campaign.

It is a fact that a government which acts against what it stood for is a false government. It is a government with no credibility, and will forever be flawed. All in all, it is only through the comprehensive execution of its manifesto that a government will truly ever be of the people, by the people and for the people.


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