Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Where is Federalism or Federation in our Constitution?

Dt: 16/8/22

Where is Federalism or Federation  in our  Constitution?

Dr T H Chowdary*


In 1947  when we got  freedom from foreign rule we had  three  Presidencies  of  Madras, Bengal and Bombay and  several  Provinces like Bihar, Orissa, Punjab, Assam.  In addition, we had  465 Princedoms / Kingdoms/ Nawabis.  There were no States in the sense we have them now.  When we wrote the Constitution and adopted it  in Nov 1949,  the  new designation “States”  for territorial administrative and governing  units came into vogue . Nowhere in the   395 Articles  of  our  Constitution are there words like “federation or federalism”.  Before the Constitution  came into  being  we had Federal Service Commission and Federal Court  which after the  Constitution was adopted came to be called Union Public Service Commission and  the Supreme Court of India.  Government  of India Act 1935  created a sort of  federalism –  not fully federal .  Our Constitution defines our country and nation  as a Union of States ( not a federation of States).  The  word state is a new designation for the former Presidencies,  Provinces  and Nawabis  and Princedoms.


2. The Parliament of India according  to  Article- 3 of the Constitution can  divide the States, alter their boundaries    and even merge and  de-merge  states. For eg:   Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh  and  Telangana were carved  out of  existing  States by Acts  of  Parliament . Similarly  the  State of  Jammu & Kashmir  was split up two Union Territories.  If we are a federation   could  these changes  be effected ?  In a Federation  the federating States  cede certain rights and legislative powers  to the Federation.  For eg:  in the United States each one of the  51 States has its  own Constitution , has its own organ for conducting  elections and the Governors are  elected.


3. Our Constitution makers especially Dr Ambedkar and Sardar Patel  wanted  a strong Center as  India with scores of   local kingdoms fell an easy prey to  adventurous  companies and governments.  Each of these  different territorial  kingdoms  could be conquered over time by the   foreign invaders. If only we had an empire like the Mauryan or Samudra Guptas  could not have possible. To ensure  that we have  a strong Central  Government  which can  promote and preserve among others the integrity and the  indissoluble    unity of the  country our Republic is designated as a Union and not as a Federation.


4. As already mentioned,  Article-3 can alter the boundaries disintegrate  and  integrate states  by Acts of the Parliament,  Articles  - 356 , 360 & 362 amply  establish the supremacy of the Union Government, in that  the state governments can be  superseded and President’s rule introduced. During  six decades of Congress rule alone, over one hundred state governments were dismissed and President’s rule enforced.  For convenience of  legislation  and  to promote  legislations  required for  different States, depending upon  their means and aspirations there are  three  Schedules  - one Schedule says only the   Union can legislate  in the  matters listed therein; there is another  Schedule in which matters the  States only can legislate are listed ; there is another schedule wherein matters which  can be legislated by the States as well as by the Union are  listed. When   there is difference or conflict between the Union legislation and the stat legislation  in the matters listed under the concurrent list, the  Constitution clearly state that the Union’s  legislation will prevail. 


5. In the light of these and other provisions of our Constitution  the talk   of  federalism , federal State or federation  is   glib talk.  India is not a federation of States; it is  a Union of States,  States created by the Union and the Union cannot be broken nor  any State can  secede from the Union.  Such talk  amounts to attempt at subversion and weakening of the  Republic of India, that is Bharat.   As the Indian National Congress  became weaker and weaker,  regional parties   are  talking of  India as a federation, federalism etc., as though the States are  independent  ceding  certain rights  to  the Union. The regional parties  are  dynastic   and  changing  alliances   based on castes to form governments . These are  certainly disintegrationist and not unionist.  In the state of Telangana of late,   there is   description of Telangana as a Nation  and  its current Chief Minister as the Father of this  Nation  (Telangana Jati Pita). In Telugu   the word  Jati is often used for the English word nation. 



6. Saving Grace:


The Indian National Congress nurtured by great patriots, has since Sardar Patel’s death in December 1950, become the property of Nehru- Indira-Rajiv-Sonia and her children, Rahul and  Priyanka (Wadra).  The Sonia ( of Italian origin) family controls and proprietorised it since 1998.


While all non-BJP parties are regional , Congress has remnant, dwindling and disappearing presence in all states.  As it is  highly centralized and Sonia family- owned, Congress does not call India a federation but is content to describe the BJP government’s as “ communal”, “non-secular” and “ divisive”.   (808 words)