Traditionally political affiliation of people of sub continent has been towards personalities rather than political parties. People tend to follow a person, whose personality and public face symbolizes his political ideology. This has, however led to undemocratic values among the democratic parties.
The party leadership more often than not enjoys an assured life-time leadership. The party is at the mercy of one man’s ideals, political abilities, vision and intentions.
When it comes to choosing the next leader for the party, which usually happens after the (usually a tragic and unnatural) death of former leader, rather than an election for party leadership, it is usually “announced” by the elders of the party. In order to keep affiliations of the party workers and general public intact, party usually “decides” to hand it over to some one next of kin of the previous leader.
In India Congress Party Chairman Nehru was succeeded by his daughter Indira Gandhi, who was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi, who in turn was succeeded by his wife Sonia Gandhi.
In Bangladesh President Mujeeb-ur-Rehman was succeeded by his daughter. President Zia-ur-Rehman by his wife Khalida Zia.
In Srilanka President Premadasa was succeeded by Mrs. Premadasa.
In Pakistan, Muslim League’s presidency fell into lap of Miss Fatima Jinnah, sister of party president Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was succeeded by his daughter Benazir Bhutto.
It was more than evident that after the tragic murder of Benazir Bhutto, some other member of Bhutto family will be the new chairman of the biggest party of Pakistan. It turned out to be the young Oxford law student Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
This decision has been accepted and welcomed throughout the country by party workers, who have swore their allegiance to Mr. Bilawal Bhutto, and hence the tradition continues.
I am in no position to criticize the decision of the PPP leadership, it was their decision to make, and according to traditional, not democratic, norms was more than expected. but I was just thinking that, If there’s no democracy within the democratic parties, how come they can work to instill democracy in this democracy deprived country?
Sharif Brothers enjoy dictatorial control over their PML-N, most probable candidate to succeed them will either by Mr. Nawaz’s son or Hamza Shahbaz , who by the way is contesting from a PML-N stronghold, Gwalmandi seat, forcing the loyal and party strongman former MPA Khawaja Sa’ad Rafique to contest from a weaker constituency.
PML-Q’s Chaudhry brothers share the spoils of military backing together and are preparing Moonis Elahi as the next ‘BiG’ boss of PML-Q, with all the Local Government Nazim’s campaigning exhaustively for him alongside Punjab Police for his current election campaign.
Jamaat-e-Islami, had a record of democratically electing its leaders, though then again for lifetime, as was the case of replacing Maulan Modoodi with Qazi Hussein after the earlier’s death. But now Rehana Qazi, daughter of Qazi Hussein happens to be the contender for the hot seat.
Mufti Sahab was replaced by his son Maula Fazlur Rehman as the leader of JUI.
ANP saw replacement of Wali Khan with his wife & later by their kin Asfand Yaar Wali.
Two relatively newer parties MQM & Tehreek-e-Insaaf are being led by their founders with totalitarian attitude. The de-facto party presidents, enjoy lifetime leadership of their parties.
There are many mal-affects of this tradition. In absence of democratic setup within the party, any suggestion or appeal from any party worker or group is easily vetoed by the leader. Sharp political minds always remain on the sidelines, as is the case with Aitzaz Ahsan, Javed Hashmi or Farooq Sattar. There can be no pressure group with in the party to persuade it or at least make it consider a different approach.
A political party represents an ideology, voters vote for it to give it a chance to implement that political ideology, to take the country into direction for which it promised during campaign, but does that really happen?.
I believe that the absence of democratic culture with in the political parties leads to dictatorial attitude of their leaders, who when came to power do things their own way, rather than their party’s way.
Isn’t it ironic that when they’re in opposition they tend to speak “our” language, when they come to power; they speak “their” own language?
A better start towards democracy might be introduction of democratic values with in the party, but, that seems a far cry. When will public representation and support be treated on democratic grounds rather than on “hereditary” grounds?