No internal democracy

As expected, Sonia Gandhi is set to be re-elected Congress president with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the party’s top brass cutting across generations backing her candidature for the top organisational post.
A total of 89 nominations were filed from different states and Union minister Oscar Fernandes, who is chairman of All India Congress Committee’s central election authority, said that till Wednesday nominations in favour of Gandhi alone had been received. [All nominations so far name Sonia]

Do you think anyone will file a nomination against her? That would be the end of his career in the Congress Party. This has an uncanny similarity to the way Saddam Hussein was elected as well.

Iraq declared Saddam Hussein the winner Wednesday with 100 percent of the votes in a referendum in which he was the sole candidate, perpetuating his two-decade reign and prompting bursts of celebratory gunfire in Baghdad’s streets.[Iraq declares Saddam election winner]

I am not equating Sonia with Saddam. One is a mass murderer and the other is a naturalized Indian trying to make a living in India. But when it comes to elections, Congress Party members and Iraqis ruled by Saddam have the same right. Vote for the supreme leader or else. Coming to think of it, how many parties in democratic India have internal democracy?

5 thoughts on “No internal democracy

  1. No Republican opposed George Bush (during the primaries) when he ran for re-election in 2004.
    So, maybe your item could be labelled “Sonia, George and Saddam”…

  2. well, 2000 was an open primary for the Republicans, so others ran too. Remember, there was a lot of bitterness between McCain and Bush (in 2000), but in 2004, McCain “fell into line” and supported Bush because he wants to be viable for 2008.
    In 1996, no Democrat opposed Bill Clinton.
    Having said this, when the imcumbent president appears weak or has really pissed off the party, then there will be challenges, e.g., Bush Sr. in 1992 was challenged from the right by Pat Buchanan. But in that case, the right wing was unhappy with Bush Sr. for breaking his pledge about not raising taxes.
    Incumbent vice-presidents don’t really count; they have to prove themselves to the party and the base.

  3. Vivek, the difference is that in Iraq, if you opposed you could lose your head. In India, you could lose your party membership and hence the money making opportunity. In US, I have noticed that each party has its own right and left wing and they bicker constantly, but no one gets expelled. Howard Dean, the anti-war candidate works in the same party as John Kerry. Arnold, the pro-stem cell Republican works in the same party as George Bush, the anti-stem cell guy. The fact that these people are able to express their opinion publicly without getting permission from “high command” says a lot about the maturity of politics.

  4. what you say is true to an extent.
    However, some issues are verboten. I can’t imagine a Democrat surviving in the party if she/he was staunchly pro-life, e.g., at the 1992 (or 1996) Democrat convention, one of the more prominent Democrats who is pro-life was not allowed to speak.
    Similarly, in the current climate, a Republican generally tends to toe the socially conservative line. Soon after the 2004 elections, the Republican senator who was going to become the head of the judiciary committee made the comment that Bush should choose jusges wisely (i.e., not just pick pro-life judges); he almost lost his post and had to “apologize”.
    But it is true that there are more power centers in the US, and hence more voices are heard.

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