Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Office of profit- what is it?

by D.Dhanuraj

I never understood the office of profit argument. In recent times, this has been a controversial definition for political hara-kiri. Now, it has taken an alarming proposition that can cause for midterm assembly elections in Kerala. The debate is on ‘whether the chief whip of the ruling front (UDF in this case) enjoys the office of profit or not?’ I am not a legal expert to cite the various judgements and provisions in the law to prove or disprove the argument. Yet as a researcher, it looks so funny to me when the very idea of office of profit and these positions (Chief whip in this case)are interchanged for political vexation .  
What do we mean by a political office? From President to local ward member can be included in that long list. What is their duty? In Indian context, to perform and drive for the societal needs and meet the social challenges in truly democratic way. What is the role of Government and who are all responsible for the Government? From PM or CM as head of the cabinet (as applicable) to MPs and MLAs supported by executive and other forms of para statal agencies.  Recently, parliament legislated to hike the remuneration for MPs. What does it mean? Each one is eligible for get remuneration for the work they are doing. Isn’t it the same case when PM is paid and MPs are paid but PM also is an MP? PM also chairs more than 70 committees in India. Isn’t it a problem that system necessitates these additional work and not PM as an individual?

What is Chief Whip? Culture and definition of Whip varies from UK to other countries.
In UK,  “The role of Chief Whip is regarded as secretive, as the Whip is concerned with the discipline of their own party's Members of Parliament and never appears on television or radio in their capacity as whip. Whips in the House of Commons do not speak in debates”.

But in Kerala, it differs in all the respects. Chief Whip is the spoke person (though not officially) for the Government in power. I do tend to believe that everyone is tempted to be on media in Kerala so is the case with the Chief Whip. But don’t forget that he is also an MLA. Like PM is selected, Chief whip is also been selected. So, why office of profit? The 'chief whip' is the leader of the 'team' of whips whose job it is to keep order within the party and to ensure the members of the party (MLA's) vote in line with the party's ideas. It is as good as a Minister is a given a ministry to look after. Is he enjoying the office of profit? It looks to be a very murky idea of defining office of profit.

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