Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday drew attention to the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a consensus builder, noting that the Indian electorate may have given strong majorities to different parties since 1952 but over 50% of them have never voted for one party. He was delivering the second annual Atal Bihari Vajpayee memorial lecture in New Delhi organised by the India Foundation.
“A numerical majority in elections gives you the right to make a stable government. The lack of popular majority forbids you from a majoritarian government. That is the message and essence of our parliamentary democracy,” he said.
“The Indian electorate has time and again conveyed to the ruling party that goes on to form the government, that yes, they may be entitled to form the government with majority of the seats won by them but, they are also to take into consideration, all those people, who may not have voted for them. The mandate is to govern as a majority party with a stable government, but carry others with you,” he said in a nudge at the government.
He made a case for raising the number of Lok Sabha constituencies to 1,000 from the existing 543 and for a corresponding increase in the Rajya Sabha’s strength, arguing that India has a “disproportionately large size” of electorate for elected representatives.
Elaborating on the point, he said the last time the strength of the Lok Sabha was revised was in 1977, which, he noted, was based on the 1971 census that put the total population at 55 crore.
“The population since then has more than doubled, and there is a ‘strong case’ to remove the freeze in the delimitation exercise. It should be ideally increased to 1,000,” he added.