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Endorsing Intra-party Democracy

New Delhi, Wed, 11 Jun 2008 NI Wire

The recent pandemonium in Bharatiya Janta Party’s internal rebellion by some faction of Bihar unit has yet again raised the question of weight of intra-party democracy in a democratic set up where political parties represent an intermediary group between state and society. Lack of intra-party democracy and institutional mechanism among political parties certainly pose a serious challenge to democratic accountability and a signal towards the fragmentation of party system.

BJP’s secret ballot to end the leadership question in Bihar has just created a new challenge to all national parties to save the internal institutionalisation and the very essence of power and formation of party system. There is certainly a great need of reform in internal structure of our political parties.

As far as BJP is concerned, it is probably for the second time after Gujarat, where state leadership had to take stern action in support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi by suspending few leaders and issuing show-cause notice to top most leaders like Keshubhai Patel. In case of Bihar, though Sushil Modi succeeded to survive in the vote-out session, the margin of vote hits that there is an influential section for which party might lose some supportive base.

It is not merely confined to BJP but the oldest party Congress too on the issue of central leadership and even the emerging regional crisis where the party despite having a history of success, is continuously losing its base in many regions. The power of candidate selection and decision making left to a numbered leader is the biggest impediment while increasing factionalism and new horizon to young leadership against traditional party norms creating dissidence.

Furthermore, in a coalition era with increasing bargaining power of smaller parties and interest groups, the inevitability of having a strong regional leadership comes into force, which proves to be a drawback for parties like Congress due to lack of consensus.

Taking the case of Germany where in a strong Intra-party democracy, nominated candidates are first selected through a secret voting before the management committee finalises the list; a sincere attempt of democratisation can better serve in the long term interest of the party by clearing the existing questions inside the party. The disagreement in Bihar BJP unit and the following ‘secret ballot’ is only a step forward to promote democratic decission making within the party and also seen as good for a country’s political stability.

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