The growing need for strengthening Internal democracy in Political Parties

The growing need for strengthening Internal democracy in Political Parties


The Election Commission of India (ECI) has rejected the concept of a ‘permanent president’ for a political party stating it to be inherently anti-democratic. This decision comes in the backdrop of Congress holding elections for the post of Party President and Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister being declared as President for life by his party. 


  • No legal backing: There is no law that mandates political parties to conduct organizational elections at regular intervals. The ECI has time and again used Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951(which provides for registration of political parties with the Election Commission of India) to issue guidelines to remind parties to conduct elections to ensure that there is a renewal of leadership in every five years. But the commission lacks any statutory power to enforce this.
  • Problem of over centralization in functioning of political parties: There is a problem of over centralization with only one or few people holding vast powers leading to a high command culture. The 170th Law Commission Report – recommended introducing a regulatory framework to govern the internal structures, accountability and inner democracy of parties. It stated that a political party “cannot be a dictatorship internally, and democratic in its functioning outside.”
  • Non Transparent Procedure of determining leadership: Leadership is decided by consensus and elections even if happen are contested unopposed to declare the de- facto power holder as the Party President 
  • Financing structure: The financing structure is of such nature that it necessitates centralized control by a single person or small group.
  • Fear that election may lead to party fragmentation: There is a fear that election may trigger disunity and lead to breaking of party into smaller groups
  • Norm of dynastic politics: power is held in a close knit group of a single family. Hence, rising in ranks depends on relationship with the family instead of merit. 


  • Conduct election for post of leadership at regular intervals: The most common way to realize inner party democracy is conducting elections for leadership positions in the party.
  • State funding of political parties: Former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi proposed that parties should receive money as per the number of votes they get. 
  • Stringent enforcement by ECI: The ECI should be firm in insisting on organizational elections, and stop condoning delays for not holding elections. Elections where one is elected unopposed should not be recognized.
  • NCRWC Recommendations: It recommended that rules and by-laws of the parties seeking registration should include provisions for declaration of adherence to democratic values and norms of the Constitution in their inner party organizations.
  • 2nd ARC on Ethics and Governance stated that over-centralization in the working of political parties leads to corruption and the “the more remotely power is exercised from the people, the greater is the distance between authority and accountability.”

SOURCES: (The Hindu)(Should the Election Commission insist on inner party   elections?) (The Hindu)(Internal Democracy) (2nd ARC Report- Ethics in Governance)

Plutus IAS current affairs eng med 24th Sep 2022

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