Sunday, 2 April, 2023

Internal Democracy in Political Parties Essential

  • A.K.M. Atiqur Rahman
  • 2nd February, 2023 02:17:48 PM
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Politics and democracy have a natural bonding for obvious reasons. Without the existence of one, the existence of the other becomes incomplete and meaningless. It goes without saying how dire the state of politics can be in an undemocratic country. The politics that tries to strangle democracy is itself suffocated to death at the end. In fact, just as politics strengthens democracy, a democratic process keeps politics alive. When the polity deviates from its democratic ideals, the country's democracy is threatened.

Politics, since ancient times, might have existed in various forms among different groups or communities believing in the same ideals and objectives. The issue of political party and leadership had come together in people's minds to organize mainly for their own welfare or to protect the interests of the communities. And this is how the practice of politics started in society. Gradually, political thoughts had also started to develop in different forms in different parts of the world. Through the practice of those changing ways of thinking, people and politics were bound to the structures of democracy, socialism, monarchy, etc. These processes had been ongoing and are likely to continue in the future. But the acceptance of all those depends only on the people, if the people have the opportunity to exercise their rights of expression. Politics cannot survive in isolation.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that politics and democracy are born, developed, excelled and functioned around the people. In fact, people, politics and democracy are string together in the same manner. However, the other two cannot arise or be created without the people. As the nature of politics is determined according to the needs of the people, democracy is sustained and strengthened by their choice and needs. If the political leadership tries to undermine democracy for any reason, it either damages the democracy of the country or the leadership has to flee from the political arena. However, a state's political environment, peace, development, security and acceptance to the world depend on the relationship between these three factors.

In a democratic process, there should be a system of choosing or replacing governments through free and fair elections, opportunities for people to participate in politics. In many countries of the world, politics is done by deceiving or ignoring the people. Many attractive promises are made during election campaigns for public welfare or development of the country, but later no sign of implementation of those promises are traced. Only individual interests prevail. Sometimes military rulers or their civilian supporters try to usurp state power and run the country. History says that those who went to do such activities have suffered dire consequences. No matter how powerful a politician is, one cannot remain in state power in isolation from the people. One day he has to accept the extreme consequences; there is no escape from it as people are the ones who give power to politicians. And power is given only to serve the people. Disruption is likely to cause harm, as democracy says.

While addressing as the chief guest at Jatiya Party's council session held at the Engineers Institute Auditorium in Dhaka on 8 January, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, "Good people don't want to come into politics. We could not make politics suitable for them. Good character people should be brought into politics. If good character people do not come into politics, politics turns into bad shape.” A couple of weeks after, on 26 January, in his speech as the chief guest at the Mymensingh divisional representatives meeting of Awami League, he said that formation of committees with one's own people and relatives would not be allowed. Committees should be made with selfless people, who were in the hard days.

Obaidul Quader uttered very valuable words which are essential for every political party in Bangladesh in the present-day reality. Coming from the base of political hierarchy, he has been performing the duties of the General Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League, the largest political party of Bangladesh, with devotion, faithfulness and reliability for the past few years. Being actively involved in Awami League politics since his student days, he knows and understands the ins and outs of not only his party but each and every party of Bangladesh. Therefore, we can assume that he has presented the right image of the party to the public. This picture is seen in all parties including Awami League and the situation is getting worse day by day. And if that is the case, then is there nothing for the political leaders to do? Or are these words coming out of the mouth just for the purpose of speech?

The reality is that politicians of our country usually hide their real activities by delivering such speeches in public. Undoubtedly, the party workers and the common people of the country understand their motives. Often, we see posts are given to such people in the party who possess exactly the opposite character of what the Awami League General Secretary said. There are people who even lack political acumen, integrity or other qualities important to the party. We don't know what the qualities are taken into consideration when these people are selected by the party leadership. If such a style of democracy is practiced by the political parties of Bangladesh, is it compatible with the commitment to establish democracy in the country? How will our political parties be able to bring good, talented and honest people in the party? In the words of Quader, politics becomes worse if people of good character do not come into politics. In fact, politics is already in bad shape.

People of Bangladesh believe in democracy, all political parties work for democracy (at least apparently). Since people and politics are responsible for the good or bad of the country's democratic process, it is the responsibility of political parties and their leaders to steer the people in the right direction. And in that case, if the leaders cannot manage their own parties properly, the responsibility of failure will fall on their shoulder. Hopefully our political leaders will definitely give importance to this and the Awami League, which led our great liberation war, will be the first to take that step and will set example for others.

I don't want to go into the history as to how much the practice of democracy was based on the opinion of the people in this land of today's Bangladesh. However, after spending 190 years as a British colony, the eastern part of Pakistan, underwent various phases of democracy from 1947 to 1971. After that, democracy in independent Bangladesh had to face different situations from time to time. Besides the periods of military rule or people in uniform running the country, other times the winds of democracy have more or less flown and continue to do so. If we observe a little, we can see two forms of democracy in Bangladesh. Even though the country is not fully democratic yet, there are efforts. But none of the political parties in Bangladesh seem to practice democracy in their own party’s internal matters (except one).

If there is no culture of democracy in the party or the leadership of the party is not determined to follow the democratic process, then how can a full democracy be established in the country? Because political parties play a major role in establishing democracy in the country. For example, if I do not lie, I can forbid others from lying. If not, I will face criticism. If I lie and forbid others, that would be hypocrisy. Can democracy be properly established by hypocritical politics? If there are democratic practices within the political party, then a party's commitment to democracy is born and the establishment of democracy in the country becomes much easier. If a grassroots party worker gradually rises to a higher echelon through a democratic process, the basis of democracy will be strengthened in his mentality and thinking. With time his political experience, wisdom, foresight and leadership skills will mature which would play a strong role in strengthening the country's democracy. Until the culture of democracy within the party and its follow-up is established, the democracy in Bangladesh will suffer tremendous helplessness.

(The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary.)

Source: Sun Editorial