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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IX : Political Ideas > Legislatures


65. Legislatures

We shall benefit by our people entering the councils if they are true men filled with humility and love of the country, courageous, fearless and versed in the subject they have to handle.

Young India, 19-5-20, p. 5

Two hundred and fifty of these legislators let loose on the people in a province without opposition, are, in my opinion, the worse plague. Is it after all for replacing the white rapacity by the black that so many noble souls, who are no more with us, suffered and sacrificed everything worth living for in their lives? There must be an escape out of this morass. If these legislatures are not so numerous, the evils would be less. Fifty members in the lower house and half that number in the upper house, for each province, which is going to be smaller on the linguistic basis, would minimize the nuisance.

Mahatma, Vol. VIII, (1954), p. 292

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.

Harijan, 17-12-46, p. 13

The congress should not have to spend money on the elections. Nominees of a popular organization should be elected without any effort on the latterís part...

An organization which looks to money for everything can never serve the masses.

Harijan, 17-2-46, p. 13

I am certainly not enamored or I do not swear by two legislatures. I have no fear of a popular legislature running away with itself, and hastily passing some laws of which afterwards it will have to repent. I would not like to give a bad name to it and then hang the popular legislature. I think that a popular legislature can take care of itself, and since we are dealing with the poorest country in the world, the less expenses we have to bear the better it is for us.

Gandhian Constitution for Free India, p. 93

The whole of the constructive programme including unity, removal of untouchability, prohibition-is in pursuit of truth and non-violence. If there can be any interest for us in going to the legislatures, it can be only for this reason and for nothing else. Truth and non-violence are both the means and the end, and given the right type of men and the end, and given the right type of men the legislatures can be the means of achieving the concrete pursuit of truth and non-violence. If they cannot be that, it will be our fault and not theirs. If we have a real hold on the masses, the legislatures are bound to be that and nothing else.

In making room for the parliamentary programme we are advancing a step further in the direction of non-violenceÖ Truth and non-violence are no cloistered virtues but applicable as much in the forum and the legislatures as in the market place.

Harijan, 8-5-37, pp. 97-98

If fighting for the legislatures meant a sacrifice of truth and non-violence, democracy would not be worth a momentís purchase. The voice of the people is the voice of God, and it is the voice of 300 millions that we have to represent. It is not possible to do so with truth and non-violence?

Harijan, 1-5-37, p. 89

In my opinion Congressmen who are members of Assemblies, whether as mere members or Ministers or speakers, have in every act of theirs to bear in mind the fact that they have, in virtue of the Congress Constitution, to confirm to truth and non-violence. Thus the conduct of a congressman in an Assembly would have to be that strictest honesty and courtesy in dealing with its opponents. He will not resort to shabby politics, will not hit below the belt, will never take a mean advantage of his adversary. The greater his position in the Assembly, the greater is his responsibility in these matters. A member in the Assembly no doubt represents his constituency and his party but also represents the whole of his province. A minister no doubt advances his own party never at the expense of the nation as a whole.

Looked at from the point of view here suggested, the Speakerís position assumes very high importance, greater than that of the Prime Minister. For he has to discharge the functions of a judge while he occupies the chair. He has to give impartial and just rulings. He has to enforce decorum and laws of courtesy between members. He has to be clam in the midst of storms. He has opportunities of winning over opponents which no other member of the House can possibly have.

Harijan, 16-7-38, p. 184