Kolkata: In unusually forthright remarks, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken on Saturday night hit out at the high command culture in his party and called for inner-party democracy in national parties.
Maken, who has recently taken over as President of Delhi Congress and who is regarded as close to Rahul Gandhi, said "this high command culture needs to be done away with".
"Until we have decentralised power in national parties including the Congress, we don't have a bright future ahead," he said here speaking at an annual debate.
Others who participated in the debate included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Union Minister Babul Supriyo, ex-Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, BJP spokesman and in charge of Bengal Siddarth Nath Singh and Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam.
Maken, who was speaking on the motion "politics is about the states and not about the nation", asserted that if national parties had to survive, then there should be complete decentralisation of the power structure and "doing away with the high command culture".
He said more power should be given to the party worker.
Only then national parties will exist. "If you don't have inner party democracy in the national parties, then these parties either cease to exist or cease to remain important," he added.
Omar spoke about the recent change of government in his state and referred to the recent massive controversy over the release of separatist leader Masrat Alam on the orders of the new Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed with whom he did not see eye to eye on all issues.
"What the man (Sayeed) did was to release the man (Alam) on the orders of the Supreme Court. And what did the TV channels do--they branded him as pro-Pakistani, anti-national Chief Minister," Omar said.
Omar said he was a Indian but that did not mean that he cannot be a proud Kashmiri.
He also said that strong nation does not mean strong states. But strong states do mean a strong nation.
Maken said politically speaking states were also important. When it comes to national politics strong state leaders will survive and likeminded political parties will have to align themselves.
"But most importantly for the national parties including Congress decentralisation of power needs to take place," he said.
Maken said when parties talke of membership, why should an ordinary member work for the party. "After losing elections in Lok Sabha and states, if we talk to our workers, they simply ask what has he got in the last 10 or 15 years."
He said national parties have to consult workers in important policy decisions and in selection of candidates.
"If you want national parties to thrive, pthen we have to decentralisation the power structure and do away with the high command culture and give more powers to the party worker.
"Only then the national parties will exist. If we don't have inner party democracy in the national parties, then these parties either cease to exist or cease to remain important".