In an ideal world, where all political parties and politicians operate only for an ideology, horses would be found only in stables, nepotism would have no place in political parties and perfect democracy would be reflected in every aspect of life. But the simple truth is we don’t live in an ideal world.
Political parties as a building block of our polity is an unchangeable reality; and so long as we have political parties, which have an inertial strength and influence, with their cadre, offices, organisation, money, clout, symbol, flag, colour, and quite often, a family at the helm of its control, intra-party democracy would remain a fable.
Living under a scion benefiting from the lottery of the ovary at the cost of the more deserving political leader or cadre in decision-making is a fact of life for most politicians most of the time. But occasionally, like a unicorn rises from a start-up founded by a disgruntled former corporate employee, in politics too, arises a star who takes the highly risky route of rebellion.
Rebelling against the party leadership often means risking being dismissed, sidelined and, quite often, losing your identity. Most rebels end by the wayside of political reality.
But some rebels make it. Some, like Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, K. Chandrashekar Rao or Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, end up establishing a new party, win power and acquire uncanny heights. Most end up eating humble pie in the next election and return to the parent party, more loyal and subservient than ever before — Indian politics has too many examples of such failed rebels.
Few, like Indira Gandhi, J. Jayalalithaa or N. Chandrababu Naidu, rebel and win total control over the party itself, turning the tables on the leadership. Will Eknath Shinde, a former auto driver, who rose from the humblest of backgrounds, achieve the high of becoming CM? Will he take control of the Shiv Sena party? Only time will reveal these.
But rebellion is the last hope of democracy within political parties which believe in using democracy to come to power but not in practising it within their own organisations....