Importance of Intraparty democracy in Indian polity

Intraparty democracy

  • In India, there is no real movement towards democratisation of parties; the selection of candidates, Chief Ministers and office-bearers of party units is usually left to the discretion of a handful of leaders who take decisions behind closed doors.
  • India’s success in consolidating a democratic system of government has paradoxically forestalled pressure for party reform.
  • Electoral process is more representative but political parties look a lot like oligarchies. Most parties are subservient to one supreme leader who can impose his/her offspring on the party, and even electoral defeat does not loosen their control or hold over the party.
  • Political parties — with the exception of the Left parties — still refuse to lay down settled and predictable procedures for almost everything they do, from the selection of candidates to the framing of a manifesto.

Measures needed to ensure intraparty democracy

  1. Institutionalization against leader centricity
  • The more significant issue is the lack of institutionalisation and, partly as a consequence, democratisation.
  • The biggest weakness of parties is that they are leader-centric and most leaders are unwilling to institutionalise procedures for the selection of candidates and increase the participation of members in party functioning to prevent elite capture from getting entrenched.
  • This has proved detrimental to the political system as it impedes the growth of broad-based non-sectarian parties which can effectively articulate and aggregate a variety of interests.

     2.Broaden the functions of parties against merely winning elections

  • Party organisations have been reduced  into election-winning machines, which depend for their success on the charisma of the leader and their capacity to win elections.
  • The privileging of elections at the expense of other aspects of the democratic process implies that parties are inattentive to the need for constant organisational change and renewal.
  • Leaders are valued for their capacity to attract crowds and raise funds as elections become more and more expensive.

    3.Control on party funding be decentralised

  • The opacity of political financing, necessitates ‘unhindered top-down control’ and ‘absolute loyalty down the line’, argues political scientist, E. Sridharan.
  • If party funds are raised and controlled centrally, this weakens the State units and rank and file vis-à-vis the central leadership on a range of issues including leadership selection and nominations for elections.
  • It also discourages democratisation as this would limit their power to accumulate wealth or amass a fortune or promote personal power at the expense of public interest.

Question for Answer Writing

Q: Why is intraparty democracy important in Indian polity? Why is it lacking and what measures are needed to ensure intraparty democracy?

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