|Source :News Bharati English Date :11-Feb-2017|
Defining political party:
A political party is the articulated expression of the general will at a particular point in time, through designated group of individuals with plans of political administration. This is best exemplified during periodically held general elections in a parliamentary system of electoral democracy.
Quote: “A political party is a group of voters organised to support certain public policies. The aim of a political party is to elect officials who will try to carry out the party's policies.
A political party offers candidates for public office. It sets out positions on issues that may range from war and taxes to how children should be educated. When people in a democracy disagree about what the government should do, voters express their opinions by voting for the candidates that most closely reflect their views. Political parties provide a way for voters to easily identify a candidate's positions.
Political parties may be large or small, national or local. Large political parties generally have millions of members and supporters. In democratic election campaigns, parties compete freely for votes. Such competition is one of the hallmarks of democracy.
Political parties as we know them did not begin to develop until the late 1600s. The ancient Greeks, who were pioneers in developing democracy, had no organised political parties in the modern sense. The senate of the ancient Romans had two groups that represented people with different interests — the Patricians and the Plebeians. The Patricians represented noble families. The Plebeians represented the wealthy merchants and the middle class. Although these two groups often mingled, at times they voted as factions, or parties, on particular issues that were important to the groups they represented.”
(Source: An encyclopedic article from Grolier online and The New Book of Knowledge)
Quote: “These references are primarily from the Western world societies. In India, the very concept of a political party never arose since monarchical dynasties ruled the country since the ancient times. In India, a political party is of a very modern origin.
A political party is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions, that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.
Parties tend to be deeply and durably entrenched in specific substructures of society in a sustainable and well-functioning democracy. They can link the governmental institutions to the elements of the civil society in a free and fair society and are regarded as necessary for the functioning any modern democratic political system.
Political parties perform key tasks in a democratic society, such as
Political parties are often described as institutionalised mediators between civil society and those who decide and implement decisions. As such, they enable their members’ and supporters’ demands to be addressed in parliament and in government. Even though parties fulfil many vital roles and perform several functions in a democratic society, the nomination and presentation of candidates in the electoral campaign is the most visible function to the electorate.
To perform the above-mentioned tasks and functions, political parties and citizens need some rights and obligations guaranteed or ruled by constitution or law. These include
The internal functioning of individual political parties is to some extent determined by forces that are external to political parties, such as the electoral system, political culture, and legal regulations. However, internal processes of political parties, such as the personality of leaders and staff, the ideological foundations, party history, and internal political culture are considered to be even more influential on the internal functioning. If a political party would like the democratic principles of electoral politics to be applied within the party, they may consider practices like internal information and consultation processes, internal (formal or informal) rules and structures for the organisation and decision-making within the party, and transparency in the party’s functioning at all levels. Party members may also take on more formal roles in decision-making like participating in internal elections for leadership positions or in selecting the party’s candidate(s) in the upcoming elections. Many parties also work actively to enhance the role of traditionally under-represented groups in their parties.” (Source: Encyclopedic article)
Election to legislatures in India
Election to legislatures in India has since become a big business enterprise which engages several thousand individuals for several weeks and days. It provides employment to several thousand for a considerable period of time, and one can’t ignore the fact that there are elections after elections round the year to this or that body requiring the services of several experienced personnel in this behalf. There are big offices and its establishments managed by political parties. Experienced and expert personnel are employed by the parties to conduct daily affairs of the parties. In India it is observed that parties are required to invest crores of rupees in conducting the routine activities in their offices, an organization of public rallies, journey and tours of the leaders and staff all over, arrange lunches and dinners of the leaders and invites, printing and publishing party announcements and policy declarations, etc.
Quote: “Political Parties and Elections: Political parties are an established part of modern mass democracy, and the conduct of elections in India is largely dependent on the behaviour of political parties. Although many candidates for Indian elections are independent, the winning candidates for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections usually stand as members of political parties, and opinion polls suggest that people tend to vote for a party rather than a particular candidate. Parties offer candidates organisational support, and by offering a broader election campaign, looking at the record of government and putting forward alternative proposals for government, help voters make a choice about how the government is run.
Registration with the Election Commission: Political parties are required to be registered with the Election Commission. The Commission determines whether the party is structured and committed to principles of democracy, secularism and socialism in accordance with the Indian Constitution and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. Parties are expected to hold organisational elections and have a written constitution”. (Source: Election Commission of India)
The following reference to the Indian Election Commission’s document --a letter -- is very important in the context of the conduct and attitudes of the political parties in India. The most important dimension of the political parties in India is their respective ‘election manifestoes’ i.e. their promises made to their patrons. It is necessary to keenly study the party manifestoes which appear full of promises of gifts, lucrative assurances which go to prove the level of poverty which exists amongst voters, or even threats for non-compliance of their (candidates’) expectations. In the rural electoral colleges, such threats are loaded with dire and real consequences.
The communication is from the ECI as following: Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001 No. 437/6/Manifesto/2013 Dated 02nd August 2013.
The President/General Secretary/Chairpersonof All National and State Parties
Subject: -Judgment dated 5.7.2013 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP (C) No. 21455 of 2008 and TC No. 112 of 2011- S.Subramaniam Balaji Vs Govt. of TN & Others – framing of guidelines for Election manifestos- reg
I am directed to invite a reference to Commission’s letter No.509/84/2008/RCC dated 8th July 2013 in the above matter. You may recall that in the said judgment, the Hon’ble Court had directed the Election Commission to frame guidelines on Election manifesto in consultation with the recognised political parties, to be included as part of the Model Code of Conduct.
Background note on election manifestos:
Election manifesto - concept and relevance
A manifesto is generally defined as a published declaration of the intentions, motives or views of an individual, group, political party or government whosoever issues it. A manifesto usually comprises a previously published opinion or public consensus and/or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes for future. Oxford dictionary defines manifesto as a public declaration of the policy and aims of a group such as a political party. Thus an election manifesto is a published document containing a declaration of the ideology, intentions, views, policies and programmes of a political party. The Election Manifestos are generally drafted by the Political Parties keeping an eye on forthcoming elections and are generally published and well publicised.
As already stated above, the election manifesto normally contains the declared ideology of the political Party concerned in general and its policies and programmes for the Country/State and people at large. It, therefore, serves as a reference document or benchmark for the public at large for what a political party stands for. By comparing the ideologies, policies and programmes of the political parties, the electors can decide which party they should vote for to meet their expectations and aspirations.
Election Manifestos over the years in the country – changes in trend and approach
It may be mentioned that after independence, elections in our country have been held from the year 1952 onwards. But all the political parties were not used to publishing their ideologies, policies and programmes through the publication of manifestos. Major political parties used to make public their ideologies, policies and programmes not necessarily through manifestos. However, in recent years many National and State parties are publishing their manifestos for each general election and these manifestos generally contain, in addition to the basic ideology of the parties, major policies, viz Economic Policy, foreign policy, Plans, programmes and issues for governance, if they come to power. These include but are not restricted to measures such as ensuring comprehensive social security to those at special risk , making quality education affordable to everyone, waiving of agricultural loans, pension scheme for aged and helpless farmers, provision of safe drinking water facility and primary healthcare, medical cover for specified categories of people such as widows, old age pensioners, farmers, abolishing of child labour etc. In addition, there is a new trend started by some parties recently, in which they directly promise such items which in common parlances are termed as “Freebies”.
“Freebie” is defined in Webster dictionary as something given without charge. Oxford dictionary defines freebie as something provided or given free of charge. These promises may be aimed at targeted groups of the electorate like BPL families, weaker sections of the society, women, handicapped etc., as well as at electorate as a whole. There is a ruling of the Supreme Court of India on the subject of the mannerism of ‘manifestos’. The ruling throws light on the functioning of the parties during elections.
Observations and directions of Supreme Court on ‘election manifestos':
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its judgment/order dated 5th July 2013 in SLP(C) No. 21455 of 2008 has inter alia directed the Election Commission of India to frame guidelines on election manifesto to be included as part of the Model Code of Conduct. The Supreme Court has observed and directed ( as following ) that: Quote: “ Directions:
Para (77) of the Supreme Court Judgment:- 77) Although, the law is obvious that the promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of RP Act, the reality cannot be ruled out that distribution of freebies of any kind, undoubtedly, influences all people. It shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree. The Election Commission through its counsel also conveyed the same feeling both in the affidavit and in the argument that the promise of such freebies at government cost disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the electoral process and thereby expressed willingness to implement any directions or decision of this Court in this regard.
Para (78):-78) As observed in the earlier part of the judgment, this Court has limited power to issue directions to the legislature to legislate on a particular issue. However, the Election Commission, in order to ensure level playing field between the contesting parties and candidates in elections and also in order to see that the purity of the election process does not get vitiated, as in past been issuing instructions under the Model Code of Conduct. The fountainhead of the powers under which the commission issues these orders is Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates the commission to hold free and fair elections. It is equally imperative to acknowledge that the Election Commission cannot issue such orders if the subject matter of the order of the commission is covered by a legislative measure.
Para (79):- 79) Therefore, considering that there is no enactment that directly governs the contents of the election manifesto, we hereby direct the Election Commission to frame guidelines for the same in consultation with all the recognized political parties as when it had acted while framing guidelines for general conduct of the candidates, meetings, processions, polling day, party in power etc. In a similar way, a separate head for guidelines for election manifesto released by a political party can also be included in the Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties & Candidates. We are mindful of the fact that generally, political parties release their election manifesto before the announcement of election date, in that scenario, strictly speaking, the Election Commission will not have the authority to regulate any act which is done before the announcement of the date. Nevertheless, an exception can be made in this regard as the purpose of election manifesto is directly associated with the election process.
Para (80):- 80) we hereby direct the Election Commission to take up this task as early as possible owing to its utmost importance. We also record the need for a separate legislation to be passed by the legislature in this regard for governing the political parties in our democratic society.” Unquote :
Existing Model Code of Conduct- relevant provisions: The current model code of conduct contains some relevant provisions on corrupt practices by parties and candidates and related to promising by the party in power etc. They are reproduced below:-
Sub-para (4) of Para I. General Conduct stipulates that –
“(4) All parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are “corrupt practices” and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from polling station”.
Para VII. Party in Power stipulates inter alia that –
The party in power whether at the Centre or in the State or States concerned shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign and in particular-
(v) Ministers and other authorities shall not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced by the Commission; and
(vi)From the time elections are announced by the Commission, Ministers and other authorities shall not –
( a ) Announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof; or (b) (except civil servants) lay foundation stones etc., of projects or schemes of any kinds; or (c) Make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc; or (d) Make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc., which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.
Information on international practices that could be gathered from two international organisations and seven election management bodies, in response to a set of questions circulated to more than 30 organisations, has been compiled and is attached as Annexure. (a) Guiding principles for framing guidelines of the manifestos/model code of conduct.
The Supreme Court in its judgment has directed the Election Commission to frame guidelines for the contents of election manifestos in consultation with all the recognised political parties. The guiding principles which will lead to framing of such guidelines are quoted below from the judgment:- Quote : “Although the law is obvious that the promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of RP Act, the reality cannot be ruled out that distribution of freebies of any kind, undoubtedly, influences all people. It shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree”.
“The Election Commission, in order to ensure level playing field between the contesting parties and candidates in elections and also in order to see that the purity of the election process does not get vitiated, as in past been issuing instructions under the Model Code of Conduct”.
“We are mindful of the fact that generally, political parties release their election manifesto before the announcement of election date, in that scenario, strictly speaking, the Election Commission will not have the authority to regulate any act which is done before the announcement of the date. Nevertheless, an exception can be made in this regard as the purpose of election manifesto is directly associated with the election process”. Unquote:
In the light of aforesaid observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, it is important to recognise the public perception of the electorate in this country to promises of freebies.
Points for suggestions from political parties:
Suggestions/views of Political Parties on the broad framework of guidelines on Election Manifesto & Freebies.
Suggestions/views with regard to Timing of release of Election Manifestos by Political Parties. Having regard to the Supreme Court’s observation that the part relating to election manifestos should be included in the Model Code of Conduct and that such part of the Model Code may come into force even prior to the date of announcement of election schedule by the Election Commission, what may be a reasonable window before announcement of elections within which the political parties may issue/release their manifestos? . Court’s order required the ECI inviting to suggest a mechanism for ensuring compliance with guidelines to be issued.
Suggestions/ views with regard to “freebies” in the Election Manifesto, keeping in view the observation/directions of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court expressed its concern over the issue of freebies being promised in the election manifestos of political parties. The definition of freebies has been explained in the foregoing paragraph number 2. What should in the view of the political parties, be considered as freebies?
Suggestions/views on the practicability of implementation of promises of freebies in reference to their social and economic impact need to be reconsidered.
It will not be out of context to refer to the practices in vogue elsewhere in the world.
A compilation of available international practices with reference to manifestos
The practice of issuing manifestos, their content and time of issue:
Issuing manifestos is increasingly common around the world. Manifestos normally indicate broad policy/programmes of a political party/candidate on political, economic and social matters.
In the United States, the nature of political party platforms is policy based, generally covering economic policy, foreign policy, healthcare, governance reform, environmental issues, immigration, etc. These do not offer specific benefits, but outline plans and policies that would benefit large groups of the population.
In many West European countries, manifestos tend to mention more concrete policy choices as well as their budgetary implications. Sometimes, parties add financial paragraphs to their manifestos, which may be submitted to a Court of Audit (if it exists), which calculates how realistic each manifesto is.
In Bhutan, political parties are required to submit a copy of their election manifesto to the Election Commission, before a primary round of National Assembly elections. Manifestos are issued to the public only with the approval of the Election Commission. Content is largely policies and development plans and programmes which a party will implement if elected. Election Commission thoroughly vets the election manifestos, and filters out issues with the potential to undermine the security and stability of the nation. Further, manifestos cannot contain anything that seeks electoral gains by campaigning on the ground of religion, ethnicity, region, prerogatives of the King and the State, national identity etc.
In Mexico, to be eligible to nominate candidates for a Federal election, a party must submit an electoral platform for registration and validation by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). The platform essentially contains principles/proposals which the party would uphold on three broad issues: politics, economics and social. The contents must be in line with the declaration of principles and programme of action that the party submitted with their application for legal registration. IFE verifies that the electoral platform is in line with the basic documents of the party. Certification of registration and validation of the platform is essential for the nomination of candidates.
As regards content, there appears to be a thin line between policy pledges and promises of freebies aimed at vote buying. These need to be differentiated while considering the matter. Manifestoes are issued before the elections – the period ranging from three weeks (Bhutan) to two months (United States) to five months (Mexico) before Election Day.
Legal provisions/guidelines regarding manifestos.: In Bhutan and Mexico, Electoral Authorities have the power to vet manifestos and get certain types of content removed.In the United Kingdom, the Electoral authority issues guidelines for campaign materials (which would apply to manifestos also ). In the United States (without a central EMB), the State-level EMB regulations generally do not include any provisions about political party platforms. It is the Party Committee which governs internally and develops the platform of a party for a particular election, as per the Charter and By-Laws of the party. (source: IFES)
Most other democracies do not seem to have any legal provisions/guidelines specifically for manifestos, although in some countries (e.g. the United Kingdom, the Netherlands) legal provisions applicable to offensive campaign material would seem to apply to the content of manifestos as well.
Regulatory mechanisms: Regulatory mechanisms operate in Bhutan and Mexico, as above. In the United Kingdom, the Electoral authority issues guidelines for campaign materials (which would apply to manifestos also) but does have no other role.
In major democracies such as the United States, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands and Austria, EMBs/Electoral Authorities have no role in relation to manifestos. In Mexico, manifestos require approval/validation by the Electoral authority before their release. Other democracies do not seem to have taken any steps so far in this direction.
(Source: p.4 to p.11 quoted/drawn from the documents of the Election Commission of India).
In India, the Constitution framers adopted in 1947 West Minister Cabinet system under a Republican parliamentary democracy. The most outstanding characteristic of the Indian democracy in 1947/50 was the synchronisation of adult franchise, multi-party system, rule of law, freedom of the fourth estate, economic freedom in the absence of industrial infrastructure, absence of the optimum level of literacy ( sound educational foundation ), and Constitutional supremacy. These are the characteristics which the citizens of India acquired without any severe bloody conflicts or civil wars. Several of today’s’ democracies in the world elsewhere have had to undergo hard turbulent periods of their histories. Indian example of a democratic journey is ‘democratic explosion all of a sudden'. The journey so far, in spite of several drawbacks and lacunas in the political system practised in India, is certainly commendable. There have been successfully conducted a dozen and a half times Union parliamentary elections and several dozen times provincial Assembly elections. The most important reason of such a peaceful run is the ‘right-to-the centre’ attitude of the Indian society.
Yet there have been in the recent past quite a few serious signals which warrant corrective measures lest the political institutions better than many countries, which we have inherited from the British colonial regime, would be seen jeopardized. The frame is intact; the problem is with the contents. The signals which warrant immediate corrective measures are—the role of election manifestos, inter-party democracy, intra-party democracy, selection of candidates, the function of criticism of the opposition parties, mutual respect between parties, funding of elections, ‘accounted for’ and ‘not accounted for’ expenditures of the parties and their candidates, methods of electoral propaganda, public meetings and rallies, house to house campaigns, open public debates on policy matters by party leaders and esp. by the contesting candidates do not find priority place in the campaigns . Criticism stands for abuses of the opponents. Mutual disrespect, indecent behavior, resorting to violence and threats, murders ( at times ), kidnappings, demanding ransom amounts, bribing the voters, switching party loyalties over the refusal of candidatures seem to have become the order of the day.
All these facts are the symptoms of the rise in excessive election fever. Such a situation defeats the very principles and philosophy of parliamentary democratic electoral ethos. The same level of fever continues from election to election—in a series of elections conducted for several bodies round the year. Former Union Home Minister (late) Y. B. Chavan once had opined that ‘…election is not a democracy'. The context was different. There is a substance in the statement. The present scenario suggests far more serious consequences to this one. Ferociously contested electoral battles are fought at the cost of ‘the Executive’. This must weaken the parliamentary democracy. Elections round the year have destroyed the peace in the society. Social peace and peace of the mind of the individual has been irrevocably damaged.
The prevalence of the socio-political roots drawn from the Western society and ushered into a typical native oriental society viz., the Indian society, the ill-founded concept of “satyagraha”, which is quite different and contradictory to the societies in the West. Indian society is not a political society as is defined in the Western terminology. (It is like an octopus which gulps everything and synthesizes it ) . The present themes of the “satyagraha” drive the democracy towards a sort of ‘anarchy’.
The scarcity of ideas and ideals on the part of parties:
There is another important signal emitted off this. Political parties esp. in India seem to have run out of ideas and ideals. There does not appear any policy matter discussion whatsoever in their policy documents neither it is seen or heard in their internal meetings. State , governance , good governance, economic policies , planning for development , problems in public administration , dialogue and cooperation with other parties , constructive discussions with the party in power , opposing the policies of the ruling party in government on ‘issues’, responsibilities and bounden duties of the citizens, study groups on academic matters , attitude of understanding the other side etc are a few areas which hardly find any room for serious introspection on the part of the parties. Generations of the yesteryears lived their lives for some ideals in life. They saw some dreams and poured their best in them to achieve it. They nurtured no personal agenda. They struggled for certain socio-moral values which were considered as basics in the society. They carried some pride by considering themselves as an integral part of the society and of course the nation. It must be remembered that even the then Indian National Congress nurtured and imbibed moral values in the Congress Seva Dal battalions. As at present the battalions are faded and are not seen everywhere. The monumental work which another socio-cultural NGO called ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh', commenced in 1925 cannot be ignored as it is growing continuously and has emerged as a force at the national level to be reckoned with. As is well known, the compass of the RSS covers almost every walk of life and field of activity. The political parties need to learn, if not follow , the lessons from RSS. In fact, it is a wonderful proposition in the realm of an intellectual academy, to consider RSS as a communal, authoritarian and an outdated NGO. It is most unacademic, that its
The socially alienated rationalists under the influence of Macaulay learning ( it is not that bad ! ), are afraid of doing so. Their fear is ‘self-realisation’.
Criticism means abusing in a rustic manner:
The standard of the debates conducted by the private TV channels has of late slipped to an abominable level. Several speakers speak disrespectfully of the official political executives i.e. the Ministers, their unfounded criticism is full of abuses ,their references are without evidence, more or less on the basis of mere hearsay, their understanding of the subject matter evidently proves very poor, the anchors do not appear to conduct the debate , it is a sort of cross-examination in a court of law, moreover , the anchors themselves give long speeches under the garb of questioning. Most of the anchors turn out to be propagandists and make (paid?) Observations and statements. The discussions become free for all, moreover, attacks on the personal integrity of the political leaders esp. the Ministers has become a routine common thing. Personal animosities surface and instead of discussing issues and policy matters, personal enmities and jealousies are settled across the small screen. Political parties, of course, take full advantage of such a conducive environment and needless to say, make most of it.
Constitutional institutions are in jeopardy on account of irresponsible political parties: The plight of the helpless parliament has become pitiable on account of some adamant opposition party leaders. Legislative bills are discussed with less enthusiasm and concern. The proceedings of the Houses are frequently stalled whereby important Bills and equally important the discussions do not take place which amounts to the denial of the constitutionally mandated legislative functions of both the Houses. This has been the salient feature of the Houses during the last few years. Honest and the ruling party members of parliament are denied their legitimate prerogative of free discussions in the Houses. A total chaotic situation is a telecast live to the entire nation. The presiding officers are forced to sit as silent spectators ( although they need not remain so ). The same scenario is imitated ditto in the State Legislative Assemblies in the country. In a way, the voters in the country too are deprived of their legitimate expectations of public debate of their representatives. The legislative business and the Executive actions have been forced to become standstill. The voters/citizenry cannot afford to remain, silent spectators, if they do so, it is quite likely that they would lose their faith in the democratic practices in future. An early way out is required to be found out to break the impasse. The legal solutions are already in the law-book, all that is required is to become law abiding citizens. Political decency on the part of the party leaders and civic tolerance is required to be the ultimate conclusion. Work in the process of nation building is not analyzed rationally.
Remedial corrective postulates: The following measures need to be discussed as a matter of public debate in the country amongst the intellectuals and the commons.
(a) The pitiable scenes witnessed on the floor of the Houses certainly warrant a severe and stern thinking to bring back the ‘peace’ in the Houses. The behavioral patterns of a few of the Honorable Members of the Parliament in the Houses is required to be more responsible and tolerant to preserve the democratic parliamentary culture, by considering stern punitive actions against the erring leaders in the House , ( b ) Equally important thinking without being impetuous in this behalf is necessary to discipline the functioning of the political parties—from within and without by considering legislation regulating and promoting internal democracy , ( c ) State funding of general elections in order to curb the use of unaccountable money by the stakeholders in the elections , ( d ) Simultaneous elections to the Parliament , Assemblies , Panchayati Raj bodies , Municipalities and Municipal Corporations in order to restrict the wastage of time , money , idle manpower , and most importantly , the election for power ‘psyche’, even the Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranav Mukherjee, too has referred to this question in his recent address to the joint session of the Parliament, ( e ) Enable the Executive to focus on the developmental administration in the country, ( f ) It will be a step towards depoliticizing the Indian society which in fact is not a ‘political society’ in the Western terms, ( g ) regulating strict norms for candidatures who are planning to contest elections ,
The Prime Minister of the new Government in India has taken over a huge Herculean task upon himself, of revitalising the Indian society and is sincerely and seriously engaged in the developmental activities confidently and prudently, his best bet in that behalf being ‘ NATION FIRST'.