It is assumed that political parties are essential for the functioning of democracy but it is also true that parties are responsible for the ailing democracy. It may be made known that the constitution of India did not provide for the making of political parties. Hence, the political parties are actually Extra- constitutional. It was only through Section 29 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, that the term ‘Political party’ was first mentioned. The constituent assembly was well aware of the ruckus of political parties in the west so they envisaged a party less democracy. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, the chairman of the Drafting Committee clearly stated that ‘Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only top dressing on Indian soil.’
Mahatma Gandhi always remained a votary of people’s power without it being concentrated in the form of political parties. His blueprint had no room for the competition of power between parties, which, according to him always results in unholy alliances with multinationals, the capitalists and the industrialists. But at the same time, to give representation to people’s ambition, he mooted the idea of ‘Village Republics’. His idea was honored by establishing a three-tier system- the Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis, and Zila Parishads. This was the decentralization of power, bottom upwards so that the representatives remain organically connected to the bottom, the lowest edifice.
It is, in this background and the events happening around the country which has prompted the thought of giving a trial to a ‘partyless democracy’. It is not an innovative idea but a leaf taken from the political thought of Mr. M.N.Roy which sounds quite relevant in the present political scenario. A party less democracy is a nonpartisan representative system in which universal and periodic elections do take place but without reference to political parties. It is well within the ambit of the aspirations of our constitutional framers. Nowhere does our constitution talk about parties or groups contesting elections. It simply provides that any Indian citizen who is 25 years of age can contest the Lok Sabha election and anyone above 30 years of age can contest the Rajya Sabha elections. The constitution only provides for the individuals contesting elections. The picture of political parties so far has been very dismal. There has been a noticeable rise in corrupt practices, use of money and muscle power, caste, religion-based division of society during election times.
In the party less democracy, things would be less based on party and ideology and more on actual ideas of the electorate. People tend to vote for parties instead of their candidates in a party-based democracy. This would not be so in party-less democracy where the bio-data of the candidate and not the party symbol would be the deciding factor in elections. Though we might face some difficulty in the formation of the government and its structure thereof, things can be worked out eventually. The representatives, so elected without any party banner would be standing on equal footing. They would designate the Prime minister or the President, depending on the will of the representatives with consensus among them. The office of the designated head can be held on a periodic rotational basis. He would be ‘the first among equals’, not their boss but a partner in the functioning of the government. There would be provided for the ‘Recall’ of the representative even before the expiry of his term if he acts undemocratically. This power of ‘Recall’ is there in Switzerland and America as well. The elected representatives would not work in the scare of being deselected or simply expelled from the party for expressing their free opinion on the issues, as it happens in the party democracy. Panchayat system in India has no party system and is working quite well. We should experiment ‘No party Democracy’ at state and national levels also with some modifications due to the geographic and demographic needs of such a vast country. It is indeed an interesting idea and it deserves a chance.
The Author: Susan Anand, Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High court, Educationist, Social and Political Analyst