Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Sunday, April 6, 2008

American democracy versus Indian

For the last few months the Democratic Party in the United States has been busy selecting its candidate for the presidential election to be held in November 2008, and the process is likely to take a couple of months more. It looks wasteful that in a term effectively of only three years and nine and a half months, from the 20th January 2005 to the election on the 4th November 2008, almost one year is taken up in deciding the presidential nominees. But it is a happy commentary on the intra-party democracy obtaining in that country that all registered members of a political party play a role in choosing the party’s nominee for the all-important election for the president.

Compare this to the scene in India – in the world’s biggest democracy, no political party, and they are umpteen in number, is yet familiar with the term ‘intra-party democracy’. Candidates for the state and general elections are chosen by the parties’ respective high commands comprising of one - yes, just one – to ten persons. Ordinary members of the political parties are simply not trusted to choose the candidates. Every now and then the Election Commission makes suitable noises on its constitutional obligation to promote intra-party democracy but is easily satisfied with the sham elections the political parties stage for its benefit.

And then which political party in India will tolerate a challenge from within its own ranks to the candidature of the wife of country’s ex-president (read ex-prime minister in the Indian context), its star alumnus? In the country where three persons belonging to one single family, no doubt illustrious in many ways, have ruled for a collective 38 of its 60 years of independence, there can not be a Barrack Obama. Hillary Clinton is unfortunate that her husband was the president of the United States and not the prime minister of India.

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