He (Munde) seems to be unhappy over the appointment of Madhu Chavan as Mumbai party chief although it was decided in consultation with more than 80 leaders of the city unit, and the decision was taken by a committee consisting of Ram Naik, Bal Apte and Ved Prakash Goyal 

Offstumped examines the BJP’s Munde Crisis.

First the facts and what little is known in the public. We are told that Gopinath Munde has expressed his unwillingness to meet the Central Leadership after resigning from all party posts including the post of General Secretary. Since then we are also told that Mr. Munde  had conveyed his sentiments to party leaders in the state assembly and the council, Eknath Khadse and Pandurang Phundkar respectively and they would attend the meeting with the Central Leadership. And then we were told the inside story by Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra BJP President

We are also told that 50 of 54 MLAs in Maharashtra are backing Mr. Munde.

Without getting into the merits of Mr. Gopinath Munde’s greivances with the way the BJP is functioning, it is clear the BJP has an uncalled for crisis on its hands.

If the media reports are anything to go, the bane of High Commands has come back to haunt the BJP. The party system in India is unique in its centrally controlled command structure despite all the lip service to federalism and decentralisation.

In stark contrast if one looks at the Party system in the United States, the national leadership is usually irrelevant and mostly reduced to playing a co-ordinating role. It is a tribute to grass-roots democracy that routinely new leadership replaces the old and there practically is no High Command.

So what holds the Party together one may ask ?

Its the platform stupid !

Its not to say that all is perfect with this model of inner party democracy and usually there are those who will break ranks to deviate from the Party Platform. But then that is the essence of bi-partisanship. Rather than deadlock that we routinely see in our hung assemblies and parliaments, this system with its loosely enforced “whips” has no undemocratic laws of the “Anti-Defection” kind.

Its this freedom to occassionally break ranks while mostly sticking to the Party Platform that sustains the Party system.

Coming back to the BJP’s Munde crisis.

Offstumped Bottomline: Irrespective of the merits of the greivance, the “Right” democratic principle that ought to be applied here is that the Mumbai City Chief must be elected by Mumbaikar members of the BJP and not appointed by either New Delhi or by Maharashtra. High Commands of both the State and Central kind are an anachronism in this day and age of grassroots democracy. Something for both Mr. Munde and Mr. Rajnath Singh to reflect on.

Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest

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