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PHILOSOPHY > THE MIND OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Popular Ministries

 

Popular Ministries

Creation Of Ministries
It would be decidedly wrong to create minister ships for the sake of conciliating interests. If I were a Prime Minister and I was pestered with such claims, I should tell my electors to choose another leader. These offices have to be held lightly, not tightly. They are or should be crowns of thorns, never of renown. Offices have to be taken in order to see if they enable us to quicken the pace at which we are moving towards our goal. It would be tragic if self-seekers or misguided zealots were allowed to impede the progress by imposing themselves on Prime Ministers. If it was necessary to have assurance from those who have ultimately to clothe ministers with authority, it is doubly necessary to have assurances of understanding, of loyalty beyond suspicion and of willing obedience to discipline. And lastly, the acid test is that the choice must commend itself to the members of the party to whom the Prime Ministers owe their nomination. No Prime Minister can for one moment impose a man or woman of his choice on the party. He is chief because he enjoys the full confidence of his party as to ability, knowledge of persons and other qualities that mark out one for leadership. (H, 7-8-1937, p. 204)


The ministers and the legislators of the Congress ticket have to be fearless in the performance of their duty. They must always be ready to risk the loss of their seats or offices. Offices and seats in the legislatures have no merit out side their ability to raise the prestige and power of the Congress. And since both depend wholly upon the possession of morals, both public and private, any moral lapse means a blow to the Congress. This is the necessary implication of non-violence. (H, 23-4-1938, p. 88)


A minister no doubt advances his own party, but never at the expense of the nation as a whole. Indeed, he advances the Congress only so far as he advances the nation. For he knows that, if he has no sword to give battle to the foreign ruler, he has it not to give battle to his adversary within the nation itself. And since the Assembly is the place where all communities meet willy-nilly, it is the place where, by winning over his opponents, he expects to forge sanctions which can be made irresistible. All the problems that affect the body politic, including communal unity, can be solved if the Assembly is regarded ….as an instrument to be used for solving questions…… (H, 16-7-1938, p. 184)


There is a beauty and an art in simplicity which she who runs may see. It does not require money to be neat, clean and dignified. Pomp and pageantry are often synonymous with vulgarity.
(H, 17-7-1937, p. 180)


This office-holding is a step towards either greater prestige or its total loss. If it is not to be a total loss, the ministers and the legislators have to be watchful of their own personal and public conduct. They have to be, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion in everything. They may not make private gains either for themselves or for their relatives or friends. If the relatives or friends get any appointment, it must be only because they are the best amongst the candidates, and their market value is always greater than what they get under the Government. (H, 23-4-1938, p. 88)

Code For Ministers
The holding of any office in the Congress Government must be in the spirit of service without the slightest expectation of personal gain. (H, 3-9-1938, p. 242)


 If the Congress wants to continue as people's organization, the ministers cannot live as SAHIB LOG nor use for private work facilities provided by Government for official duties. (H, 29-9-1946, p. 333)


Ministers should not be sensitive [to public criticism. They would take in good part even carping criticism…. The critics expect much more from these chosen servants of the people than from others in the way of simplicity, courage, honesty and industry…. (H, 21-9-1947, p.325)


Our ministers are of the people, from the people. Let them not arrogate to themselves greater knowledge than those experienced men who do not happen to occupy ministerial chairs. (H, 16-11-1947, p. 409)


The leaders have the reins of Government and the disposal of millions of rupees is in their hands. They have to be vigilant. They must be humble. People often think nothing of not keeping their word. They should never promise what they cannot do. Once a promise is made, it must be kept at all cost.
(H, 14-12-1947, p. 467)


The ministers are [the people's] servants. They can do nothing against the express wishes of the people. They will not stay in office a day longer than the people wish. (H, 4-1-1948, p. 495)

Legislatures
Let us examine the utility value of legislatures. The legislatures can expose the Government, but that is the least service. He who can tell the people why they become victims of the Government in spite of knowing its faults and can teach them how to stand up against Government wrongs renders a real service. The members cannot do this essential service, for their business is to make people look to them for the redress of wrongs.

The other use of legislatures is to prevent undesirable legislation and bring in laws which are useful for the public, so that as much help as possible can be given to the constructive programme.

Legislatures are supposed to carry out the popular will. For the moment eloquence may be of some use in these bodies. Ultimately that will no be the need. Experts with practical knowledge and those who can give to these few their support will be required. In an organization which exists for the sake of service and which has boycotted titled and other such paltry things, the sentiment that to be selected as candidates for the legislatures is a mark of honour is harmful. If such a sentiment takes root, it will bring down the name of the Congress and finally prove its ruin. If Congressmen are to be reduced to such degradation, who will put flesh and blood into India's millions of skeletons? On whom will India and the world rely?
(H, 17-2-1946, p. 13)


A popular ministry is responsible to the legislatures and cannot do anything without their consent. Every elected member in a popular legislature is responsible to his voters. Therefore, the voter who represents the public should ponder well before embarking on any criticism of the government of his creation.

Moreover, one bad habit of the people should be borne in mind. They do not like and tax whatsoever. Where there is good government, the tax-payer gets full return for his money as, for example, the water tax in cities. No tax-payer could get water on his own for the same payment. But even so, and in spite of the fact that the tax is levied by the popular will, tax-payers always resent even paying such taxes. It is, of course, true that one cannot prove the benefit of all taxes as easily as the one I have cited as an example. But as society grows in size and complexity and the field of service also grows, it is difficult to explain to the individual tax-payer how he gets his return for any particular tax. This much, however, is clear that taxes as a whole should stand for the general benefit of society. If this were not so, the argument that the taxes were levied by popular will would not hold. (H, 8-9-1946, p. 293)