Party System is a Bane for a True Democracy
Political parties are a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. They agree on some policies and programmes with a view ‘usually’ to promoting collective good and well being in the society. But in today’s context the meaning of political parties has somewhat changed. They have become more of a ‘critical political bodies’, more of the ‘competition’ and that too an unhealthy one, rather than governing. In most of the democracies throughout the world, various party systems from single to multiparty, are adopted within countries to form government. So far, it is considered to be the best way to accommodate diversity and bring in social and political changes peacefully. But what about the other side of the coin ? It is well said that politicians are like quick silver; if you try to pinpoint at them, you will find nothing behind. Over the years, countries all over the world are witnessing a serious ‘democratic crisis’. Corruption within parties is paramount. The cases of defection within parties are ever increasing. India itself witness a large number of politicians changing their party ideologies from one end of the seesaw to another, causing much of the havoc and imbalance in the scenario. Is this democracy ? And, the biggest irony is that even though such people are freely participating in politics, they generally get elected by the people ! Served well for their selfish means and greedy causes for defection !
In 2017 less than 3 weeks before Punjab assembly election former crickter turned politician and BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu joined Congress and soon won Amritsar east seat in Punjab. A sixer at the last moment ! The routine tales of party scandals are enough to convince us that democracy is not free from evils. Seriously, justice is only limited to wealthy and powerful in India, the poor can‘t even think about it. What happened to all the politicians who were found guilty in Hawala case ? Nothing ! Thousands of cases of money laundering are still pending in courts. The pile continues to grow ! All the black money simply rots at Swiss Banks. Parties are considered one of the most intolerant institutions in the world. All of them just get reduced to pinpointing allegations and dirty blame games in order to muster support, defame others and grab the tickets. They often appeal to the caste and emotional sentiments of the people in order to win. A perfect representation of the devil down the earth ! Infact, people often need to pay a heavy price for this as it provokes political riots and genocides even leading to assasinations like that of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Most of the parties are internally prone to politics. Ordinary members hardly influence any party decision and all the cream goes to the top party leaders. Parties often nominate candidates consisting of billonaires and rich filmstars who can raise a lot of money for them. Companies who supply funds to parties tend to dominate policies and programmes. Thus decision goes in the hands of the inexperienced. In some cases parties even support criminals who can win seats. Now-a-days, Party seats belong to the “reserved rather than to the deserved”. The history of India itself had witnessed party nepotism in INC with Nehru family enjoying top positions. Since parties are focussed only on winning election, they often tend to use short cuts. Aha! Remember the state of UP vs. Raj Narain case ? It was filed in 1975, finding Mrs. Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices leading to declaration of emergency. Can such be the basis of democratic government ? The ways in which political parties work often lack the principles of democracy itself. There is a dire need for democratic reinforcement at the hour.
Against —Radhika Agrawal
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” —Newton‘s third law of motion
The above law clarifies that absence of an equally opposite force from the other object will render the object motionless. This stands true to the idea of elections in a democracy. In the absence of the voice of opposition there will be a vacuum and lack of motivation for the leaders in power to own their fallacies and show their responsiveness and responsibility to the people.
Demand for a better world and environment, to safeguard and ensure availability of social, political, regional requirements, security, connectivity to the masses should never become an option but always remain readily accessible to them as these are not just amenities/luxuries but are intrinsic for survival and development as well.
For a sub-continental country like India, concept of direct democracy wherein people can sit together and discuss is impossible (as was in ancient Greece). Hence, adopting the structural and organizational pattern from the Westminster system. Post-independence India conformed to the system of democracy with absence of any rule that stated or required existence of one party. This opened the floodgates for regional parties and other ideologies to prosper. Even before independences the Congress socialist party and communist party were active.
India became a culmination ground for active political ideologies. The resentment and dissent from common notion is the essence of democracy. The competitiveness among parties induced awareness and thus gave impetus to survival of the best (fittest) suited party. And where people’s voice is suppressed it is not just authoritarian but dictatorship in the garb of democracy, as seen in contemporary China. Would this kind of oppression lead to true democracy ? Possibly not.
A little bit of poison in controlled quantity is capable to be elixir for life. So is with the ‘factions’ in the party system in India. Coalition government formations in the last quarter of 20th century have been a witness to the ideological rivalry and party politics within the pool of coalition. But this ‘factionalism’ helps to counter the opposition in its trust form, hence, ultimately benefiting the people. Would this kind of pressure be possible in a country without any party system ?
It is undeniable that without effective party politics, only the elite echelons of the society and government would thrive using their dominance. Isn’t this despotic ? The representatives of people elected from 543 constituencies in the country can indicate through the implementtation of policies, that their’s wasn‘t first a political agenda during cam-paigning. This obligation towards the people would be falling on deaf ears in a democracy without representtation of people through parties.
Disregard to recognition of urge amongst the population was seen before the disintegration of USSR where the one-party system of erstwhile communist party of Soviet Union had hightended their control over every organisation in the 15 republics of USSR. The outcome of 1991’s fall of the mighty Soviet Union is a testimony to the fact that not one-party but the typical party system, especially a multi-party one is essential for the sustenance of democratic ways.
And it is true that the desire for power and totalitarian rule for an individual is unquenchable like the thirst that never subsides by drinking sea-water. Although now not in power, yet Zimbabwe’s former first lady, Grace Mugabe was infamously known for her lavish lifestyle and Gucci bags in the face of poverty of Zimbabwe.
Apart from poverty, India is crippled with the existence of caste and communalism that further vitiates our social and political representation in the government. To counter this debilitating force of stereotypes, a party-system in the country ensures that the ostracized, disregarded and the vulnerable find their place and can express the ideology they follow, be it the left or centre or right. And the only aspect of ‘eligibility’ be knowledge, experience (and age) and not the caste.
True Democracy drives its power from the participation, cooperation, tolerance, inclusiveness, awareness of the people. PEOPLE are what is at the core of the concept & continuance of democracy. Republics like China, Mexico are epitomes of hegemonic rule in absence of the participation of people freely and without fear. In a true democracy, the residents should not be afraid to write their political views.
The less of anything is not the absence of it. If less crime is reported, it does not mean the crime has reduced in reality. In the same way, the voice of minorities like Balochs in Pakistan, Uighurs in China, to the most persecuted minorities ever e.g., Rohingyas of Myanmar, has been suppressed. What is common and notable from the aforementioned countries is their militaristic authoritarian rule that prevails there. Such kind of attitude of the government would lead to unimaginable consequences and wreak havoc in the democratic system.
The quasi-federal structure of Indian democracy ensures devolution of powers, distribution of resources to the levels of Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samitis, Gram Sabhas and Panchayats; so that none are left behind. Even before the independence, Indian leaders had no doubts about implementing democracy. Soon after adoption and enactment of the Constitution in early 1950, the first elections in free India were held under control of Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner. Under the written principles in the Constitution of India, Article 324(1) elaborates the superintendence of the Election Commissions for elections. The independence of Election Commission (EC) is a mark of trust that the commission has maintained. Its dependable organization, implementtation and use of EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) are applauded elsewhere in this experiment of democracy.
The equal value of each vote ensured to every individual, less restrictions for voters to participate (like decreasing age from 21 to 18 years) in voting, and their right to choose between political alternatives strengthens a democracy.
Ultimately, the party system stands the test of time and indeed proves to be a boon, not a bane for a true democracy.