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The Editorial Analysis- No Inner-party Democracy

No Inner-party Democracy- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Indian Constitution- Historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

The Editorial Analysis- No Inner-party Democracy_3.1


No Inner-party Democracy in News

  • The ousting of Boris Johnson as leader of the British Conservative Party is the latest in a series of coups periodically mounted by the party’s MPs to get rid of a leader who has become an electoral or political liability.


Inner-party Democracy- UK Example

  • Recent resignation of Mr. Johnson from the Office of Prime Minister of Britain shows how much power ordinary MPs have over the Prime Minister.
  • A Prime Minister has to be able to maintain the confidence of his own backbenchers at all times or risk political oblivion.
  • This happened even though Mr. Johnson did deliver the largest majority for the party since 1987.



No Inner-party Democracy in India

  • In India, the Prime Minister exercises absolute authority over party MPs, whose ability to even diverge slightly from the official government line on routine policy matters is almost non-existent.
  • The Prime Minister’s power is strengthened by India’s unique anti-defection set-up, where recalcitrant MPs who do not manage to carry two-thirds of their colleagues with them (an astronomical number in real terms at the national level) can always be disqualified.
  • In effect, MPs do not enjoy any autonomy at all to question and challenge their party leadership.
  • This reduces them to cheerleaders and mouthpieces for whoever happens to lead their party at that time.
  • Neither is it anyone’s case that Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers at the State level are chosen by legislators- the choice is invariably made by a party high command, and then submitted to MPs/MLAs to be rubber stamped.



No Inner-party Democracy- Way Forward

  • Learning from UK: MPs in the U.K. are able to act boldly because they do not owe their nomination to the party leader, but are selected by the local constituency party.
    • In India, however, it is the party leadership that decides candidates, with an informal consultation with the local party.
    • Neither do MPs in the U.K. stand a risk of disqualification if they speak out against the leader, a threat perpetuated in India through the anti-defection law.
  • Modifying Anti-defection law: an exception is needed to be made to the anti-defection law/
    • A workable model can be borrowed from the U.K. where individual Conservative MPs write to the 1922 Committee (which comprises backbench MPs, and looks out for their interests) expressing that they have “no confidence” in their leader.
    • If a numerical or percentage threshold (15% of the party’s MPs in the U.K.) is breached, an automatic leadership vote is triggered, with the party leader forced to seek a fresh mandate from the parliamentary party.

The Editorial Analysis- Threat to Democracy

The Editorial Analysis: The Anti-Defection Law- Political Facts, Legal Fiction


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