Describe the composition of Constituent Assembly of India and its work regarding making the Constitution?
The Cabinet Mission Plan devised the idea of a Constituent Assembly to frame the constitution of India.The Constituent Assembly of India was a body consisting of indirectly elected representatives tasked with drafting the Constitution of India. Initially it included representatives from those regions as well which later went on to become a part of Pakistan and present day Bangladesh. The Constituent Assembly for India had 217 members. It was formed in 1946. It approved the draft of the Constitution of India on 26th November, 1949. The Constitution came into effect on 26th January, 1950. The Assembly also served as the provisional parliament of independent India till the first general elections in 1952. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was its President while Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.
- The characteristics of constituent assembly were:
- formed only of Indians
- There was an extraordinary sense of unity amongst the members of the Constituent Assembly.
- approach of idealism
- Challenges before the members of the constituent assembly were :
The country was made up of several different communities who spoke different languages, belonged to different religions, and had distinct cultures. Also, when the Constitution was being written, India was going through considerable turmoil. The partition of the country into India and Pakistan was imminent, some of the Princely States remained undecided about their future, and the socio-economic condition of the vast mass of people appeared dismal. All of these issues played on the minds of the members of the Constituent Assembly as they drafted the Constitution. They rose to the occasion and gave this country a visionary document that reflects a respect for maintaining diversity while preserving national unity.
In the process of drafting the Indian Constitution every document presented and every word spoken in the Constituent Assembly has been recorded and preserved. These are called ‘Constituent Assembly Debates’.
The problems in accepting the views of constituent assembly were that people though it was made for the personal profit of some sections in the society, however it was not true because it was made for the welfare of every citizen in India. The other problem was that people questioned the legitimacy of this assembly by pointing that it is very old and does not match with contemporary ideas.
Constitution is based on the decisions and the need of the people. Moreover, it has been organized and drafted by some of the best minds of the country who had years of political experience. Moreover, the character of being partly rigid and partly flexible makes it easier to make necessary changes according to time and need.
The Constituent Assembly was indirectly elected by the Provincial Assemblies which themselves were elected in the basis of a limited franchise established by "the Government of India Act of 1,935. The 1935 Act imposed qualification on the basis of tax property and education. This kept' out more than 70% of the adult population from the voting.
Their Constituent Assembly then reflected the composition of the: Provincial Assemblies in which the Congress had a comfortable majority, indeed, some members of the Constituent Assembly were not satisfied that the Assembly had a truly representative character and wanted a new Constituent Assembly to be convene on the basis of universal adult franchise.
The Congress however was not in favor of this procedure which it felt would prove slow-and difficult to follow in the conditions- existing in the country at that time. The Congress in its own way had tried to broaden the representation in the Assembly to include different sections of the population, going beyond the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim grouping stipulated by the Cabinet Mission, the Congress Party sent; directions to the Provincial Legislatures to include representatives of Anglo Indians, Christian passes backward classes and Women. Thus all these sections found representation in the Constituent Assembly. Finally, when the elections were over the Constituent Assembly consisted of leading figures of the Congress party like Nehru, Patel, Pant, Rajendra Prasad, K.M. Munshi, C. Rajagopalachari and T.T. Krishnamachari etc.
After the partition representatives of Bengal, Punjab, Sind, North Western Frontier Province, Baluchistan and the Sylhet district of Assam were no longer to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India. There was a fresh election in the new provinces of West Bengal and East Punjab. So when the Constituent Assembly resembled on October 31, 1947 there were 299 members. 229 from the provinces and 70 from the states.
The composition of the Assembly reflected the different ideological views present in the country at that time. There were socialists, the" Marxian as well as the democratic variety. Both groups were opposed to private ownership of important means of production and wanted an equalitarian society, while the Marxian society wanted a revolutionary reconstruction, it was the more moderate group preferring peaceful parliamentary methods that held sway. Sardar Patel may be considered a leader of Rights views supporting private enterprise.