PACHU MENON, MARGAO
For once Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deviated from his usual discourses on growth and development of the nation to redirect the attention of the media towards a more serious issue that strikes at the root of India’s political system. Asserting that the growth of ‘true democratic spirit’ within them is necessary for the country’s future, he called for a debate on internal democracy in political parties. Lamenting that with funding to political parties taking the centre stage too often, he was of the opinion that there has never been an earnest attempt by the media to debate their values, ideologies, internal democracy and how they give opportunity to the new generation of leaders. A very pragmatic observation indeed and one that has immense potential to radically change the way politics is looked at in the country today. But coming from a politician as astute as Modi, can these remarks be taken on face value! Moreover, his penchant for Congress-baiting is well-known which makes it very obvious that his reference to internal democracy in political parties is prompted by the recent developments within the Congress party, which intends to elevate Rahul Gandhi as president in place of his mother. The organisational hierarchy in the oldest political outfit in the country has always been driven by its obsession for ‘dynasty rule’ which has often come for severe criticism. But the party continues as if it is nobody’s business exposing itself further to the taunts that greet its plunging popularity. But when looked at from another perspective it becomes more than evident that it is not the lack of quality leaders that drives the party to cling on to the ‘Gandhi’ label, but more so because it is that one factor that binds the party together. Revolts in Congress over the unquestioned supremacy of the ‘Gandhi-family’ have not been uncommon. Even the BJP, the disciplined cadre-based organisation within the party notwithstanding, has been riddled with rebellions and the voices of dissent are not unheard of either! Internal democracy within political parties is a distant dream for the country.