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The Constitution of IndiaPopular Sovereignty and Democratic Transformations$
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Sarbani Sen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198071600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198071600.001.0001

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Developing the Relationship between Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism

Developing the Relationship between Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism

(p.64) Two Developing the Relationship between Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism
The Constitution of India

Sarbani Sen

Oxford University Press

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

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