In several democratic countries the number of dynastic parties has seen a phenomenal growth. Dynastic parties are those that are controlled by a particular dynasty for generation after generation. In such parties not just the Presidentship is held by a dynastic but other key office bearers also come from the same family, as that of the Party Chief. The dominant mechanism that has been established in such political parties is to control all, Party finance, Party membership, Party candidacy and also decisions about alliances and political partnerships.
In many countries as well as in several States in India, rules and regulations to monitor the functioning of voluntary organisations do not allow two persons with blood relations to become office bearers. This provision is aimed at saving the voluntary organisations from conflict of interests and also as a mark of setting high standards of morality and ethics. Unfortunately, many political parties in India have chosen to ignore the message in this particular provision and are conducting their Party organisation as a family property.
The phenomenon of dynastic parties is back door recognition to birth based discrimination. None of the dynastic political party has ever functioned in a genuinely democratic framework. Internal organisational elections in these Parties are conducted only notionally with the verdict that is already decided. In most dynastic parties organisational growth is stunted as new leadership is not allowed to aspire for the apex level leadership.
As a consequence, such political parties almost invariable are seen to be running on the basis of regional satraps who are mostly loyal appointees of the ruling dynasty. Naturally, the supreme dynasty in such political parties takes comfort in having surrounded by lesser dynasts who are ruling in provinces and regions. Eventually, it becomes a ring of dynasties with supreme dynasty at the centre. Such Political Party organisations eventually end up as coterie governed units. They seek popular mandate and when fortunes favour them, occupy positions and preside over various governance units to shape the destiny of millions of people.
Such political parties are a threat to democracy for several reasons. Firstly, democracy is all about choice and Political parties provide this element of choice. One cannot think of democracy without political parties. Political parties are an important institution of democracy and dynastic parties cause great damage to the same. Secondly, since merit is always disregarded in leadership of dynastic parties, their ability to govern is inherently compromised in a dynastic party. Thirdly, since the motivation behind the dynastic control is majorly to exercise complete control over the Party coffers, dynasty-controlled parties are more likely to promote corruption and protect financial wrong-doings. Nepotism, favouritism and discrimination on the basis of affiliation with a dynast become the ground rules for decision making thereby adversely impacting the quality of democratic governance.
The threat of dynastic parties needs to be analysed to generate a dispassionate debate on further strengthening democratic governance in India and thereby deepening democracy. The way Dynastic Political Parties are thriving in not just India but in few other democratic countries as well, makes one suspect of a method in the madness. Are dynastic parties serving as tool to discredit democracy? Do dynastic political parties create a ground favourable for the emergence of autocratic regimes? Questions, that need a dispassionate analysis.
It is on this backdrop, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini has decided to organize a National Seminar on ‘The Threat of Dynastic Political Parties to Democratic Governance’.