For securing their aims and goals, interest groups use peaceful persuasion as well as pressure techniques. When the interest groups, use pressure tactics for securing their interests these are called pressure groups.
As such, ail methods by which influence and pressure can be exerted upon the decision-makers are the methods of interest groups. Such techniques as strike, gherao, bandhs, demonstrations, passive resistance, work to rule, which are usually described as means of direct action, fall within their scope.
Interest groups are opportunistic and down to earth pragmatic in the selection of methods for serving their interests. Henry A. Turner observes, “Individual interest groups generally function in a pragmatic and opportunistic fashion, using any method or technique which they believe will serve their purpose effectively.
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Undoubtedly, dictating most pressure group’s activity is the criterion: What action will produce the maximum desired result with the minimum expenditure of time and resources?”
Besides pressure techniques, pressure groups depend upon lobbying, propaganda, participation in electioneering, use of mass media, public meetings, peaceful processions, public protests, etc., for promoting, defending and securing their interests.
Analysing the methods used by the Pressure Groups, Carr has observed, that an interest group can use three basic techniques for securing its purpose:
Firstly, it can try to place in public office persons most favourable towards the interests it seeks to promote. It can be termed as electioneering.
Secondly, it can try to persuade public officers to adopt and enforce such policies as are considered most beneficial for its interest.
Thirdly and finally, it can try to influence the formulation and expression of public opinion as a means for influencing the thinking and decisions and actions of the government. Since the democratic government is a government based on public opinion, the pressure groups rightly hope that by favourably influencing public opinion, the government policies and actions can be influenced and controlled.
A very popular means used by pressure groups is lobbying. It involves the art of cultivating and influencing the policy-makers, legislators, judges and civil servants. In its wider form, lobbying means attempts of the pressure groups to influence government departments in favour of their interests. In its original form, Lobbying is “referred to the efforts of the individuals to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside the legislative chamber.”
Adjacent to each house of the legislature, there is, usually, a room called lobby where the legislators informally sit and exchange view. It is here that the legislators can be influenced most and that too for an immediate activity in the house. Interest groups use lobbying for influencing them in favour of their interests.
In contemporary times, however, lobbying is not confined only to the lobby of the legislature it operates at all levels of governmental activity. To lobby with the ministers and civil servants by meeting them, placing before them information suitable for the interests, submitting them petitions, cases, memoranda, etc., is a popular fruitful exercise of the pressure groups.
Even within the judicial system, the pressure groups try to secure favourable decisions and judgements through lobbying. This technique is also used by the pressure groups to influence the choice of candidates, formulation of election manifestoes and adoption of programmes by the political parties.
As such, lobbying is used by pressure groups for favourably influencing the activities and decisions of all the three organs of the government as well as of the extra-constitutional fourth and fifth dimensions of government- the political parties and public opinion.
Thus, lobbying is a major popular and useful method employed by the pressure groups for securing their interests. It is done at all levels and in all processes of government: rulemaking, rule-application, and rule-adjudication. Lobbying by pressure groups now-a-days penetrates all corridors of power.
“The existence of pressure groups and the use of techniques of lobbying, rightly observes J.C. Johri, is conspicuous in a free and open society where the obligation of the government to consult the governed is recognised and institutionalised through guarantee of freedoms of speech, press and assembly along with the right of the people to petition the government for the redressal of their grievances.”
The system of delegation and its ever-increasing strength has further strengthened the role of lobbying by interest groups. While undertaking delegated legislation, the government has the responsibility to hold prior consultations with interest groups whose interests are likely to be affected by it. Lobbying, thus occupies a preferred position in the constitutional systems of our times.
(2) Use of Party Platforms:
Though with a professed non-partisan character, the interest groups do not hesitate to use party platforms and organisation for promoting their interests. They, through lobbying, persuasion, speeches and contacts, try to secure the support of political parties for their interests. They try to influence the choice of party candidates in elections, mould the election campaigns and secure the election of only such candidates as can be helpful for their interests.
Through parties, the pressure groups try to penetrate into the legislature and executive. Sometimes, interest/pressure groups also provide trained personnel to the parties, who assume leadership roles within the party organisations.
In fact, each party has interest groups within its structure and each pressure group is favourably inclined towards one or another party or parties. Use of party platforms by the pressure groups for securing their interest is a recognised fact of the contemporary era of democratic politics.
Groups exploit election times for their advantage. They do not contest elections, but at the same time they do try to influence the choice of candidates by political parties as well as their election campaigns. They participate in electioneering with a view to secure the victory of their ‘favoured’ candidates, i.e., to influence the outcome of election in a direct way. Behind party labels they indirectly get involved in elections for securing their interests.
(4) Propaganda and Mass Media:
The communications revolution of the 20th century has enabled pressure groups to use propaganda. They always try to secure such provisions in the election manifestoes of the political parties as can serve their interests and use means of mass media for securing public support for their demands and interests.
Through advertisements or press notes in the newspapers the interest groups try to secure public attention towards their demands and support for the campaigns launched for securing such demands. Through lobbying and contacts with the Press, the groups try to secure favourable write-ups and editorials in leading newspapers and periodicals.
These write letters to the editors for clarifying their views as well as for answering the questions raised by the press. Through discussions over Radio and Television too, interest groups seek to espouse the interests they represent and the cause that they support. They always try to maintain good public relations with the press.
By getting printed and distributed hand-bills, placards and posters, the pressure group try to win public sympathy and support for their interests which in turn is used to influence the policies and decisions of the government.
As such, Interest Groups always use propaganda and publicity through means of mass media for getting goodwill of public opinion and thereby a desired change in governmental policies.
Strike has come to be a frequently used method for securing interests. Through strike, which involves a temporary stoppage of work, a pressure group tries to coerce those who are responsible for satisfying its interests. It is used by the pressure group as a weapon of offence and to demonstrate the harm, loss and inconvenience those results from the stoppage of work.
Its purpose is to demonstrate the importance of the worked by the group and to show the unity and solidarity of the members and their determination to secure their demands and interests. Strike involves direct application of pressure for securing interests.
Strike, in the sense of a general and total suspension of work as a means of securing the interests, is used by the pressure groups, but only after exhausting other means like, stay in strike, token strike, work to rule, period demonstrations, mass casual leave, go slow, dharna, wearing of black badges, etc.
An indefinite strike or a general strike is used as an ultimate means of direct action. Its purpose is to force the managing authorities to accept the demands of the pressure group. In the words of Bondurant, “The strike is commonly used to affect economic pressure and is intended to hurt business, or to strain relationship so that normal functions are brought to a half, or at least inhibited.
Normal functioning cannot be resumed until policy changes are instituted. The process of strikes or passive resistance in its most common forms amounts to the intensification of pressure or the shifting of the points of attacks until a settlement is reached through capitulation or through compromise. “(Hunger strikes, fasts into deaths, token hunger strikes, etc. also fall in this category.)
These lines clearly define the nature of strike as a means used by pressure groups. It is a means of direct action, a weapon used for forcing a general capitulation by the employers in favour of the workers.
Bandhs. A Bandh is like a general strike in so far as it also involves cessation of work but it has a wider area of application and hence can be termed as a separate and distinct method. A band involves a total stoppage of all work and activity by all the people of the bandh area and not a mere stoppage of work by the members of a pressure group or some groups or parties. It is a pressure technique in which organised violence can take place and, as such is a dreaded means of instant pressure.
Sometimes, a bandh is resorted to for mischievous purpose, e.g., for creating widespread disturbances, mob-violence’s and mob- manipulations. Bandits often involve violent disturbances in various parts of the state.
Bandh is a destructive and dangerous weapon. It can lead to more harm than good. Only strong, big and aggressive pressure groups resort to this means.
Interest groups use demonstrations as a means for exhibiting the solidarity of their members as well as for focussing the attention of the public and the government towards their demands. Demonstrations involve processions, Dharnas, black flag demonstrations, silent processions, rallies, submission of memoranda, etc. It is again a means of direct action. In a democratic system, it is a recognised means of pressure group activity.
In this technique the members of the pressure group encircle and confine the employer’s o& officials to a particular place and they are not allowed to move about and do their routine work. It is done to coerce them to meet their demands as per their satisfaction. It is a sort of human blocade enforced by the workers against their employers for forcing them to accept their demands.
“When employers and factory managers are encircled in their office or elsewhere by the labourers and are prevented from freely moving about or out for hours or days together until their demands are conceded, the action is called gherao.” It can also be of the form of picketing.
“Gherao “writes Dr. J.C. Johri, “is the most reprehensible technique of agitation politics and its occurrence cannot be justified even by the canon of expediency.” However, in actual practice, at least it is very true of our country; gherao is frequently used as a weapon by the pressure groups, particularly by anomic interest groups, for securing the acceptance of their demands.
All these methods are used by the Interest/Pressure groups for securing their interests. The decision as to which method is to be used and when it is to be used is taken by the pressure groups on the basis of their resources and the environment that prevails.
Usually, the pressure groups first try to secure their demands through persuasive methods, like lobbying, propaganda and press, and if these fail, then they resort to direct action or agitation means like strike, bandh, gherao, etc. In fact, they generally employ all kinds of methods to promote their interests.