Politics

Democracy versus Autocracy

What do you think about Democracy in our system, today? The meaning of Democracy as given in the Oxford Dictionary is ‘a form of government in which the people have a say in who should hold power and how it should be used’.

Do our people have a say in ‘who should hold power’?

As per the Constitution, the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of a State should be elected / selected by the elected members of Parliament or the members of the Legislative Assembly of the state, as the case may be. But the realities are far from it in today’s India.

We are all aware how the dictates are issued by party High Commands in these matters and the will of the ‘People’ are not paid heed to. Now, when the first requirement of the Democracy i.e ‘people have a say in who should hold power’ is not complied with, how can we expect the other clause i.e ‘how it should be used’ to be complied with?

The root cause seems to be that the political parties responsible for forming and running governments are lacking in Democracy within their party set-up. The provision of elections to the post of office-bearers within the party seems to be a documentary requirement only and the office-bearers are actually nominated by and hold their offices as per the desire of the party bosses.

This is true for every political party, big or small.

There have been allegations against social activist and crusader Anna Hazare and his core committee for not maintaining Democracy within the organisation – ‘Team Anna’. The decision making is the prerogative of a few.

So, in India today, be it the governments or the political parties or any civil organisation, there is no democracy (in true letter and spirit) within the system.

Now, can Democracy exist in its literal meaning form today? Is the deviation a necessity?

To start with the formation of the governments – today, every leader aspires for the ‘chair’ and we have seen in past that even if the decision of choosing the Head of the Government is vested in the elected representatives, they can hardly arrive at a consensus and ultimately the party has to chip in with a dictate.

In over 60 years of democracy, we have produced only leaders and the followers have unfortunately disappeared. [Or … are we yet to come out of the slave mind-set? Do we just produce followers and not the leaders?]

Becoming a minister means so much today (for obvious reasons); no one wants to give up so easily for someone else. Earlier, the stakes were perhaps not so high. But today, no one is concerned about the democratic processes – the only deterrent is a bashing from the party High-Command which is binding upon everyone (normally).

In the political parties – for providing stability and strength, it is necessary to have a strong leadership at the helm otherwise every leader of some repute starts lobbying for power and position within the party. Party workers are never bothered about the democratic principles of elections to the post of office-bearers within the party and want the High-Command to take a call on the office-bearers’ names. The democracy is murdered at the very first step.