For over sixty years our political system has suffered from the High Command culture that makes democracy farcical. It was created by the Congress party and spread to other parties. It gave rise to the dynasty culture that has now landed the Congress party in possibly a terminal crisis. It violates a basic tenet of democracy. It is important to appreciate why. Certain decisions to be taken by elected legislators are taken by the party’s top leadership. In the long run this leads to faulty and arbitrary decisions that are neither wise not stabilizing. However competent top leaders might be their unfettered decisions can be distant from ground realities. On the other hand every legislator is motivated by enlightened self interest. The sum total of the collective will of legislators ensures thereby maximum advantage for the party and also stability. That is why a decision affecting legislators is best taken by legislators themselves.
The BJP is pursuing the same High Command culture that ruined the Congress. Its results might soon be seen in Maharashtra. Mr. Rajnath Singh and other central BJP leaders are visiting Mumbai where they will confer with legislators and after ascertaining their views will convey these to the party’s parliamentary board. The parliamentary board is expected to then announce the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Nobody asks why the parliamentary board should decide what should be decided by the elected legislators. Why cannot the elected legislators hold a meeting, nominate candidates for the Chief Minister’s office, and elect the candidate after a vote? That is the accepted democratic way of deciding the issue.
By ignoring this democratic norm the BJP may plunge into a bigger crisis that could fracture its Maharashtra unit. The RSS to its credit suggested earlier that the new Chief Minister should be elected by the legislators. If that advice is ignored consider what might happen. Different BJP leaders are supporting different candidates for the top job based on personal equations. Mr. Devendra Fadnavis who is backed by Mr. Modi and other central leaders is considered the front runner. By appointing him Chief Minister BJP may create a huge crisis. Mr. Nitin Gadkari is backed by almost all new legislators from the Vidharbha region. He has announced intention of continuing in the central government. But election of Mr. Fadnavis would imply likely renewal of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance which Mr. Modi championed during the campaign.
Mr. Modi also pledged that Maharashtra state will never be divided which is the demand of the Shiv Sena. That would preclude the creation of a new Vidharbha state to which all the elected legislators from Vidharbha region are passionately committed. Vidharbha returned the maximum number of new legislators. They oppose an alliance with Shiv Sena and prefer a minority government backed by independents. If they are denied an election the Maharashtra unit could be permanently damaged. Is it not best to let the legislators elect their Chief Minister and ensure a majority view and stability?