The rulers in the Government and political parties have reason to welcome direct participation of the people to ascertain their candid views, assess their mood, and gauge their true reaction face to face without intermediaries.
To this extent, it can promote democratic functioning of parliamentary democracy. Numerous instances of effective direct action of the people as in the Chipko Movement may be cited from all parts of the country. Indeed, direct action has become common to express people's views and make authorities act.
Direct action is perhaps a symptom of the growing need and desire for genuine participatory democracy within the present system of representative democracy, in which people elect their representatives once in five years and leave them free to rule with the support of majority of the members elected.
Power is vested in the 'majority', and the test of success is the ability to muster majority support to form the Government and the same ability to retain majority support in Parliament to make policies and legislations and to retain power. The voters have no control over the members elected. Their job ends with casting their votes.
Therefore, the Governments are literally in a position to adopt even unpopular policies if they so desire for any reason by mustering the support of parliamentary majority. It can be easily achieved in single party rule. In multi-party coalitions, behind scene maneuvers involving 'give and take' and a common object of safeguarding power and positions come into play for building majority.
The system contains the seeds of dissociation of parliamentary majority and the people. The voice of the parliamentary minority is silenced and that of the people not heard at all.
Hence, the voice unheard within Parliament may look for an outlet outside resulting in the growth of extra-parliamentary force. Street level politics results from Parliament's inability and sometimes refusal to hear and heed the voice of the people.
People's participation in the form of mobilizing and exercising direct pressure for and against policies and actions of the Government does not amount to disregard of the latter and its various organs. Pressure group politics is normal in all democracies. Peaceful direct action is a form of pressure politics.
In recent days, with reference to the drafting of the Lokpal Bill, a controversy has arisen over supremacy -- the contenders being the Parliament and the people. Doubtless, Parliament is the supreme law-making body and this has never been contested, but it is created by the people and assigned this job under the Constitution adopted by 'We, the people of India'.
Parliament exists for the people and not the people for Parliament. It is proverbial that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Parliament's exclusive prerogative for legislation is not challenged and cannot be diminished by people's participation and contributions including draft legislations.
Voluntary organizations can only enrich legislations, add inputs based on ground realities and experience of the people, and thus bridge the gap between the people and the legislators. It is in the interest of law-makers to avail of the rich experience and sound ideas coming from non-political sources through whatever means - dialogue or non-violent pressure.
The trend all over the world and increasingly in India today is towards establishing participatory democracy.