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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IX : Political Ideas > The Popular Ministers
68. The Popular Ministers
But it seems to me that my numerous correspondents who have been writing voluminously think that ministerships are prizes for past services and that certain Congressmen can demand their inclusion. I venture to suggest to them that ministerships are avenues to service which those who are called to it should render cheerfully and to the best of their ability. There can therefore never be a scramble for these offices.
It would be decidedly wrong to create ministerships 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 been taken in order to see if they enable us to quicken the pace at which we are moving towards our goal.
Harijan, 7-8-37, p. 204
Today you have worn on your head a crown of thorns. The seat of power is a nasty thing. You have to remain ever wakeful on that seat. You have to be more non-violent, more humble and more for bearing. You had been put to test during the British regime. But in a way it was no test at all. But now there will be no end to your being tested. Do not fall a prey to lure of wealth. May God help you. You are there to serve the villages and the poor.
The Miracles of Calcutta, (1959), pp. 32-33
They (Ministers) 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.
Harijan, 28-4-38, p. 88
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.
Harijan, 21-9-47, 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.
Harijan, 16-11-47, 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.
Harijan, 14-12-47, p. 467
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. 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 examples. 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 taxes were levied by popular will would not hold.
Harijan, 8-9-46, p. 293
The legislative assemblies should be there only law-makers. Ministers were liable to be changed at will. Their acts should be subject to review by their courts. They should do all in their power to make justice cheap, expeditions and incorruptible. For that purpose Panchayat Raj had been suggested. It was not possible for a high court to reach lakhs and lakhs of people. Only extraordinary situations required emergency legislation. Legislative assemblies, even though the procedure might entail some delay, must not be superseded by the Executive.
Harijan, 19-10-47, pp. 377-78