Sunday, August 09, 2020

Political Dynasties and Intra Party Democracy

What is the problem?

Most Indian political parties tend to become dynastic, they turn into a fiefdoms, usually run by one chieftain, who promotes his kith and kin, promotes nepotism, and does not practice democratic practices within the party, chooses MLA candidates who are subservient, whereby the MLA feels he/she is more accountable to the chieftain than to the people who elected him/her.

Why do most political parties in India tend to become political dynasties?

Many political parties in India, small regional parties and even large national parties, have turned into political dynasties.  This tendency is all pervasive.  The reason for this is that while India as a nation is democratic, the inner workings of a political party in India is not democratic.  The leader of the party is not elected, and if he/she is elected, those elections are mostly sham exercise.  The MLA candidates are handpicked by the chieftain, based on allegiance, loyalty, nepotism, caste equation, and many other attributes, AND NOT elected by the party members of that constituency.  

Without a regulation or a legal mandate, political parties in India are thus free not to practice intra-party democracy.  This is the fundamental problem. 

Only few political parties have been able to instil and practise a small degree of democracy within the party, examples being BJP and the Communist Party.  Most other parties in India, including national parties like Congress and most regional parties in India, have turned into dynasties.

What is the Solution?

Many political parties in various countries have either practiced intra-party democracy voluntarily (like in US), or have mandated it (Germany, Portugal).  Clearly Indian political parties have not practiced it voluntarily.  Therefore mandating it is the solution. 

Like how electoral reforms have been brought, or how RTI was brought about, through an Act of Parliament, political party intra-party democracy can be mandated through an Act of Parliament.  This could also be tied to legalized political party financing to further incentivize.

With that reform, a huge change can be brought into Indian political party functioning. 

What is Intra-Party Democracy?

Intra-party democracy has three essential attributes.

  1. Chief Minister candidate should be democratically elected by the elected legislative members.
  2. Elected legislated candidate should be democratically elected by the registered party members.
  3. Registered party members can be enrolled through free and fair process subject to scrutiny. 
These reforms will substantially put an end to fiefdoms and political dynasties in India. 

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