Thursday, June 18, 2015
Let us think and Act with an open mind to
Develop a Vibrant Democracy – Article 20
Introduction: I have identified thirty obstacles which cause a distorted and ineffective democracy and possible solutions for these. Because very few people have time / inclination to read long articles, these are presented in separate brief articles for pointed attention and easier assimilation. I hope this will lead to spreading of awareness and facilitating point by point debate on each of these for saving our sinking democracy.
(Please keep these articles within easy reach for referring back till the series is completed)
Representation through political parties
When a political party manages to form a government its total share of votes may at best be less than 35% of adult population, often much less (Article 2). This falls much short of the target to make them representative of total adult population. For example, even after spectacular success in 2014 elections, BJP has support of only 31% of electorate!! What makes such representation worse and questionable is that these 31% voters included those who (a) voted in droves and forsook their individual responsibility, (b) sold their vote, (c) allowed themselves to be intimidated, (d) preferred persons of their own caste against more efficient persons who have capacity to serve people, (e) voted for a party candidate and (f) voted responsibly. If political parties can have support of only a minority of the electorate, of which responsible voters form only a small proportion, how can we justify a party system for governance?
Further, even these elected persons are not free to express their opinions frankly to support needs and aspirations of people because of being subservient to their party and use of whip while voting. Hardly any political party has effective internal democracy. How can parties which do not have respect for internal democracy safeguard democracy in the country? If there is no party system, elected persons can act with freedom to ensure peoples’ welfare.
There are talented persons in political parties. If only they were encouraged (or at least allowed) to think and act giving more priority to national interest than to party interest, manifold shameful situations pointed out in Article 15 could have been avoided. A pertinent example is that Dr. Manmohan Singh saved the country from financial collapse when he was allowed to act. But, later on he lost freedom to act and earned the unsavory reputation of being a man without his own ideas!! Elected leaders (even if talented) can be either puppets in the hands of a coterie within parties or victims of coalition politics. If there is no party system, talented representatives will be allowed to act keeping benefit for the country in mind.
Another serious drawback of party system is that large gold mines of talents outside the party in power have seldom been made use of!! These can be used for benefit of the country if there is no party system.
Important legislations are manipulated by party in power with an eye on votes. In this dismal situation which shows lack of ethics of care for people, how can political parties justify their existence as makers of law for people? If there is no party system, legislations with an eye on votes will not occur.
Party interests get much higher priority than peoples’ interests. This diversion of interest led to many shameful situations (Article 15). But political parties did not bother to take any action – did not even question about these. If there is no party system, such callous neglect of peoples’ interest will not arise.
Most parties have large army of grass root level workers. The main (or only) interest of these workers is safeguarding party interests. They often start inter party disputes and quarrels. Resort to violence is quite common and even murders have occurred. Now the country has the burden of tackling problems created by these workers with conflicting ideologies and without any vision about national interests. It is possible that political parties may have created Frankensteins over which they will have no control in future. All these can be prevented if there is no party system.
Another problem is that their hero worship has led to many unfortunate situations such as blindly supporting undesirable or criminal activities of their heroes and side tracking of honest persons who could have helped the country. These can be prevented if there is no party system.
A similar situation prevails among college students who are carried away by party interests and create campus problems. Attention of these young minds is diverted from their studies and a positive attitude to peoples’ problems to a negative one of raving and fighting for party interests. If there is no party system, diversion of interest from studies and fights among college students can be avoided.
These young minds are also misguided by disqualifying behaviour and attitudes of some present day politicians (Article 19). When these fertile minds grow up in this background they will imbibe undesirable traits. They will become faction leaders, manipulators and traders of hatred. This explosive situation can lead to many undesirable outcomes in future. These undesirable developments can be avoided if there is no party system.
Political parties use their large army of grass root level workers to cleverly manipulate creation of caste, linguistic, religious and other group conflicts as well as cliques, crimes and other situations to safeguard their selfish interests. They are also used for spreading rumours. Top leaders of parties do not curb criminal behaviour of members. Thus, political parties are responsible for crimes and creation of hatred and violence in many parts of the country. Crime, hatred and violence will be reduced to a large extent and peace will prevail if party system is abolished.
While people are suffering from hunger and poverty, most political parties spend huge amounts to celebrate party events. If in power, they manipulate to use tax payers’ money for these celebrations. For example, UPA-2 spent about Rs. 30 lakhs for hosting a dinner for their third anniversary bash. Atrociously, this single meal cost Rs.7,700 per head as compared Rs.22.42 and Rs.28.6 considered sufficient by Planning Commission for total daily expenses of the poor in rural and urban areas respectively!! More shocking is that bulk of Rs. 30 lakhs came from Ministry of External Affairs. “Taxpayers’ money was treated as if it was the party’s to burn” (Deccan Chronicle dated 1-10-12). If there is no party system, all these (and some more hidden misuses of money) can be avoided.
As stated by Chief Information Commission, six major political parties are “substantially financed” by central government (DNA dated 04-06-13, front page). Large amounts are also spent on providing security to top political leaders, besides deputing many police officials. If there is no party system, public funds to support political parties can be used for benefit of people and diversion of police from their normal duties can be avoided.
“Illegal money circulates at every level in every party.” (Deccan Chronicle dated 25-01-12) Political parties, being beneficiaries of black money, are a root cause for its creation and sustenance. Abolition of party system will lead to substantial reduction in black money.
Another serious problem is creation of duel power centres (multiple in case of coalition governments) which lead to obstacles and delays in decision making. These can be avoided if there is no party system.
An editorial in Deccan Chronicle dated 4th December 2012 also highlights harm done by party system: “The trouble with us is we have become too politicized a society and cannot look beyond our nose. The culprits are political parties, not the people.” If there is no party system, distracting politicalization of society will not happen.
In a TV discussion, a former police commissioner stated that police have now become an “armed militia of the politicians in power.” (Deccan Chronicle dated 06-02-13, page 8). “Today, our political leaders not only want the police to do their dirty work but also to collect money for them.” Abolition of party system will free police from malignant and suffocating political control and improve law and order situation in the country by leaps and bounds.
Political parties have to amass huge amounts of money to fight elections. For this, illegal activities and generation of black money which harm the country are resorted to. Use of money also leads to dishonest voting in elections. This dismal situation can be avoided if party system is abolished.
These important aspects constitute the thirtieth (may be the most serious) obstacle which resulted in a distorted and ineffective democracy.
To overcome this most serious obstacle, we have to seriously and objectively ask ourselves whether having party system helps or hinders democracy.
It may be argued that having political parties help in two ways: (a) they can serve as peoples’ voice as their representatives and (b) provide a check on misgovernance by party in power. Both can be done effectively (unlike at present) by efficient elected representatives with out forming political parties.
With regard to (a), representativeness has been denied because a party can at best get only less than 35% of votes. With regard to having a check on misgovernance by party in power, these Articles show that they have in stead become a root cause of misgovernance!! Various instances of unquestioned shameful situations and callousness for peoples’ welfare show that political parties have not only failed miserably in exercising this check (Article 15) but by their connivance encouraged and is encouraging continuation of some shameful situations (e.g., helping the rich and not the poor).
Even if party system can improve and succeed in providing proper checks on governance, another basic question is: how can political parties justify their position under a democracy when (a) they get only less than 35% of votes cast, despite getting a good proportion of votes by using caste manipulations, money or threats, and (b) they do not have internal democracy?
Evidently, there is no real advantage in having party system. On the other hand, abolishing it has the 17 advantages listed below:
If political parties are abolished:
1. Elected persons can act with freedom to ensure peoples’ welfare.
2. Talented elected representatives will be allowed to act keeping benefit for the country in mind.
3. Large gold mines of talents outside political parties can be used for benefit of the country.
4. Legislations with an eye on votes will not occur.
5. Callousness in preventing shameful situations for the country due to diversion of interest will not arise.
6. Creation of large army of grass root level workers by political parties has led to massive diversion from peoples’ interest to party interests and has resulted in conflicts and crime. It is possible that political parties may have created Frankensteins over which they will have no control in future? These can be prevented.
7. Blind hero worship of leaders (even those with criminal background) and side tracking of honest and efficient leaders can be avoided.
8. Diversion of interest from studies and peoples’ interests among college students can be avoided.
9. When young people with party interests grow up they are likely to imbibe some undesirable traits and become faction leaders, manipulators and traders of hatred. These undesirable developments can be avoided.
10. Because political parties manipulate creation of caste, linguistic, religious and other group conflicts as well as cliques, they are often responsible for crimes, hatred and violence in many parts of the country. These can be avoided.
11. Wasting huge amounts of money on party celebrations can be avoided.
12. Public funds need not be wasted for funding political parties. Spending large amounts and diverting police for security of politicians can be avoided. The savings can be used for benefit of people.
13. Will lead to substantial reduction in black money because political parties are beneficiaries of black money and a root cause for its creation and sustenance.
14. Creation of duel power centres (multiple in case of coalition governments) which lead to problems, obstacles and delays in decision making can be avoided.
15. Because of political parties, society has become too politicized and cannot look beyond their nose. Such distracting politicalization of society can be avoided.
16. Will free police from malignant and suffocating political control and improve law and order situation in the country by leaps and bounds.
17. Political parties have to amass huge amounts of money to fight elections. For this illegal activities and generation of black money which harm the country are resorted to. Use of money also leads to dishonesty in voting. These can be avoided.
This objective analysis clearly shows that advantages of not having party system far outweigh advantages of having it, even if they can provide an effective check on government (which has not happened). Party system becomes even alarming and harmful when members of political parties suffer from many disqualifications and have become enemies of democracy (Article 19).
Evidently, there is absolutely no doubt that political party system should be abolished. A better alternative system with more effective checks on governance is discussed in a later article.
You can help to save our sinking democracy by making as many people as possible aware of these obstacles and possible solutions, through personal group discussions, newspaper articles, e-mail and social media like face book and twitter so that we can have healthy debates and arrive at some innovative ideas to save our sinking democracy.
Comments (especially those which point out errors or deficiencies, if any, in this article and thereby help to improve it) and suggestions to overcome this obstacle are welcome. Please send these to StartRemovingBlocks@outlook.com. I shall make use of all befitting suggestions to modify the outline of the revised system of democracy (Article 24).