Developing the Relationship between Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism

Sarbani Sen

in The Constitution of India

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780198071600
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080045 | DOI:
Developing the Relationship between Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism

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This chapter examines Gandhi's and Nehru's ideas about constitutionalism and its relation to popular sovereignty. The idea of popular sovereign power that was conceived in extremist thought became profoundly significant for subsequent political thinkers such as Gandhi and Nehru. However, the way in which the idea was developed as a foundational premise for future political ordering differed significantly in the thought of these two leaders. Gandhi's ideas of social and political organization, based on direct exercise of political authority by the people and as a continuing act of popular self-governance, was one that later political thinkers such as Nehru had to confront. Its revolutionary and mass-based form of political activity led to an understanding of the special status of the Constituent Assembly as a body of the people in the process of constitution making. Nehru's understanding of constitutionalism and its relation to popular sovereignty was powerfully influenced by his engagement in Gandhian politics. For Nehru, the process of constitutionalism had to be legitimated through popular political engagement.

Keywords: Gandhi; Nehru; Indian constitutionalism; popular sovereignty; Indian constitution; political engagement

Chapter.  8574 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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