Moving towards intra-party democracy

June 9, 2008

Rahul Gandhi has been laying the hints for a while now, and if the sycophants really want to impress the yuvraj, they will have democracy within congress.

It would be mistaken to think that this will pose any challenge to the yuvraj’s or madam Sonia’s authority. The reason that they are at helm is not because she is simply the heir of the Nehru legacy and he the heir apparent, but more because the congress lacks leaders of stature and needs some dynasty to model in their posters for all the generations.

This could be an embarrassment to BJP in the making, the BJP will have to roll back its demand for any democracy to appear in the congress and if the congress uses it well the demand would rebound to hit the BJP as a damage to credibility.

But this has me thinking, whether the BJP demand itself is justified. First of all, BJP has partly the moral high ground because the party does not pin its hopes on a certain dynasty and does not promote people as leaders and picks emerging leaders instead. Of course, there is some misfit if some issues should arise at a high level and if a person would be a ideologue the democracy can be compromised and the leader elevated by virtue of their history with the party or because of their ideological maturity, like Arun Shourie. Still obviously there is no democracy in the party and it is pretty sad that the leader of a major party (claiming to be the largest) in the largest democracy uses the word democracy so loosely and irresponsibly without making any efforts to implement anything in his own party.

Although I have also said it otherwise in my previous post, it is debatable whether democracy in a party is relevant at all levels and good development or not. The deeper details need to looked into. Often the instance of democrats and republicans in US is used to say that democracy should come in at all levels. Definitely the party can not pick its leaders for the state or the office administrators etc. and democracy will only make the functioning of the party machinery slower. The party can pick its representatives, but that also is often done with some considerations in mind, like some political deals, caste equations etc. And as much as we resent it, these are realities in politics. Even otherwise, if all members of the party machinery and the party representatives are being elected, who is maintaining any seam of ideas which define a party? For a nation, democracy works because like the minds of people the country can undergo extreme regime changes and a nation should sustain that as the will of the people (unlike the “peoples republic of china”), but the parties can not be changing according to the wills of the people on some issues. And I realise that all the in the communist vote banks will remain communists and that the voting will not bring tendencies of capitalism or anything but the question is about the fine points. Like before internal polls, the congress may support the nuke deal and after the polls they may change their mind. That change goes away with out anyone left to take the accountability of the previous decisions and to account for the time and costs towards these changes.

This can be solved in two ways, i.e. two ways of defining democratic working in the party and country. The first would be the US model itself, where each cause is represented by a person and that person takes all blame and credit. Of course part of the blame and credit go to the persons who vote him in, but the person is responsible for what he decides. This system is not in place in the nation as such and will have to be confined to the parties which implement it, for now. The party democracy will remain restricted to the parts about nomination in polls etc.

The other system where this can work is like Switzerland, where all major decisions are elected for and the party machinery remaining as it is, the decisions of the people are taken up. Here the nominations can be made democratic in a different system which can be worked or not, because the decisions anyway are of the party vote base.

In both these systems, the application at a lower level seems less important than implementation at a higher level, because a lower level of political ground is not practically having a large enough vote base which is involved in politics, hence the difficulty of applying it, and because democracy at larger levels are more consequential and impacting. If you introduce a cog into the system at the lower levels it will not impact your party, most parties live with that. But if you bring a cog and make them the party president, then that has a huge imapct on the party and the nation.

The political reform of democracy will have impacts on the overall democratic system. Indian democratic system is quite retributive unlike the American or Swiss. In America, only bush is remembered as a war mongerer not the party which had a lot of people in support with the war as well. Somehow, Mccain says he wants to pull out troops from Iraq and he is on the same plane as Hillary and Obama w.r.t that Iraq issue. In switzerland, the parties do not decide anything, ruling or otherwise. The people decide everything major and obviously the responsibility also lies there. There is no question of retribution. These systems in India would probably make a lasting impact on the mainstay democracy as well and we could see some cleaning up being done.

In a breaking of tradition, will the parties will be a step ahead of the nation and be more democratic, it is left to be seen.

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One Response to “Moving towards intra-party democracy”

  1. Jiggs said

    Hey Saakshi….

    have you read about the CLOWN PRINCE , conducting interviews in MP ( to start with) building up his Youth Congress to CREATE FUTURE LEADERSHIP.

    All, those who applied are 10th or 12th pass…..Wow…..What wonderful leaders we expect from the Congress….No wonder they have Manish BIMARI AND Jayanthi NUTrajan as their spokes persons……

    It was in IE yesterday, do read it……

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