The Forum For Presidential Democracy is dedicated to the cause of bringing the presidential form of government to India. It was founded in 1999 by Jashwant Mehta, an engineer and author, and Chimanbhai Mehta, an ex Union Cabinet Minister.
Jashwantbhai was the real visionary. He had written his first book Presidential System: A Better Alternative in 1979, in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency and Janata government debacle. Over the next several years he published his treatise in Hindi and Gujarati, and then an expanded version in English. With his personal resources he continued to inform Indians about a system of government that they had never heard of, from scholars or their political leaders. Jashwantbhai convinced many, including Chimanbhai, and the likes of Babubhai Patel, twice chief minister of Gujarat, Dr. C. Subramaniam, President of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, ex chief Justice Bhagwati, and MP Laxman Singh, brother of then CM Digvijay Singh. Praise for his work came from many leaders – Murli Deora, Gulam Nabi Azad, Rajesh Pilot, Babulal Marandi, and Arjun Singh, to name a few.
But it was the conversion of Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah toward the presidential system that was the most telling. This former Chief Justice of India was the head of the National Commission for Constitutional Reforms. At the time, he was actively engaged in reviewing the working of India’s Constitution and making recommendations for changes. After a meeting with Jashwant Mehta in 2002, he wrote “I must say I am veering around to your view.” But Justice Venkatachaliah’s hands were tied. His Commission was only authorized to work within the confines of parliamentary principles. Privately, he told Mehta that had he studied the issue earlier he would have reconsidered taking the assignment.
The Forum for Presidential Democracy also caught the eye of Rajiv Pratap Rudy in 2013. As General Secretary of the BJP and an opposition MP in Rajya Sabha, Rudy was interested in doing something about India’s failing political system. He filed a Resolution in his House pushing for the adoption of presidential system, and joined with the Forum in one its public meetings.
Mehta’s books and other materials are available from the Forum’s website. They have also created a slide presentation showing the presidential system’s features and advantages. And here are a couple of videos on the topic made by Mehta recently…