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The cut & thrust of democracy

It has long been our lament that our political parties lack inner democracy, that they do not encourage differences of opinion.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2008 19:31 IST

It has long been our lament that our political parties lack inner democracy, that they do not encourage differences of opinion.

The GOP has put our worries to rest with a contrapuntal display of emotions at a rally in Maharashtra recently. Watching this heartening development was none other than Mrs Sonia Gandhi herself who, ironically, had exhorted her flock to be united. The state unit showed that it can pack quite a punch when it comes to making its different voices heard.

So Congressmen started off with a murmur of dissent, then came a slightly more forceful clamour and finally a few well-aimed whacks among opposing factions. Actions clearly speak louder than words. We are no newcomers to rival party members making themselves heard in legislative assemblies and parliament via a clip on each other’s ear.

And on occasion, unseating the opponent and knocking some sense into him. But so far, all discord within parties, especially those like the Shiv Sena, have been muted. Now, Maharashtra has shown that you no longer need keep your feelings to yourself and speak in one voice.

The punch-up will also be valuable training at the forthcoming hustings where the party will need not just money power but also muscle power. When you need to show your clout, do it by clouting the nearest partyman. A real blow for democracy really.