Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Political Parties in India

Most of the political parties in India are family or personal properties. Congress is the property of Nehru-Gandhi family, National Conference of Abdullah family, AIADMK of Jayalalitha, BSP of Mayawati, TMC of Mamata Banerjee, DMK of Karunanidhi, JD (S) of Deve Gowda and so on. BJP and Left Front parties are exceptions.
Constituencies have also handed over to family members. When an MP or MLA dies a member of his /her family is the inheritor.
A person who is unhappy in a party has to quit the party. He may join some other party or form his own party. Many parties have come into existence that way. Most of them disappear after sometime. Rarely someone topples the leader of the party and assumes control. Chandrababu Naidu toppled NTR and took control of TDP though technically it was split with NTR heading a faction.
At one time Election Commission of India insisted that every party should have internal elections as per its constitution. Any party that did not have internal elections as per its constitution was required to hold elections once every five years. Otherwise Election Commission could derecognise the party. At that time all parties complied. After that not much has been heard of party elections.
When YSR Reddy died there was a clamour for making his son Jaganmohan Reddy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Congress High Command resisted the pressure. It is said that Jaganmohan Reddy and his followers were disappointed and that led to opposition to the formation of Telangana to weaken K. Rosaiah.
Democracy has not been a hallmark of India’s political leaders. When in the election for the President of Congress Pattabhi Sitamaraiah lost and Subhash Chandra Bose won Mohandas Gandhi said Pattabhi Sitamaraiah’s defeat is my defeat. Subhash Chandra Bose had to resign after some months.
MLAs are supposed to elect the leader of the legislative party. Many times they pass resolutions authorising the party high command to appoint the leader. Leaders who have support of most MLAs are forced to resign or not to stake claim and someone else becomes chief minister. Many times someone who is not an MLA becomes chief minister. Sometimes he is unable to become MLA within six months and there is vacancy again.
Most of the parties are regional even though some of them have marginal presence outside their states. National Conference is of J&K, INLD of Haryana, BSP of UP, SP of UP, RJD of Bihar, TMC of West Bengal, AIADMK of Tamil Nadu etc.
Unless parties have internal democracy they can not grow. Some leaders may be charismatic and get votes and lead the party to victory sometimes but when he fails the party crumbles. In India there is no possibility of any party having internal democracy in the near future. Elections to Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly and local bodies are the occasions for the people of India to express their choice and that decides the survival of parties.
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