17th December 2018
I agree with Sardar Patel’s opposition to proportional representation
Chanced upon this interesting section in Raju’s book on Masani.
Proportional Representation or PR was a favourite subject with Masani. He had studied the subject in depth and it was natural therefore for him to try his utmost to get PR into the Constitution of India. So, when the question of safeguarding the right to representation of minorities, whether political, ethnic or religious came up, and when
K.M. Munshi moved that ‘as a general principle, there should be reservation of seats for different recognised
minorities in the various legislatures’, Masani tabled an amendment pleading that in-a system based oh universal adult franchise there would be no need for reserving seats for Harijans or any other minority if voting was by the method of proportional representation. He was supported by Dr Ambedkar who spoke for the Harijans, by the spokesmen of the Anglo-Indian and Christian communities and by members belonging to the Muslim League. They were prepared not to insist on reservations if voting in elections was by the method of proportional representation.
Sardar Patel who was in the Chair opposed the proposal on the ground that accepting Masani’s proposal would lead to shifting coalitions and instability as in France. What the Sardar wanted was the emergence of a two-party system and a strong government backed by a decisive majority in Parliament. He was afraid that if PR was accepted it would give rise to a large number of small parties. Masani was unable to convince the Committee that the number of parties was not so much a result of the electoral system as of “national temperament”. He argued that Indians were not like the Anglo-Saxons, with their predilection for compromise. Indians were more like the Latinsâ€”the French, Italians and Latin-Americans—“with their proclivity for splitting and splintering.” Reservation won, PR lost.*