'Accountability of political parties has declined'



New Delhi: There is a "sudden decline" in the nature and character of political parties in the country which is having a direct impact on their "accountability", BJP leader Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha also said the country will have to come out of its "feudal mindset" and evolve a system where decisions will be taken on basis of merit.

"There is a sudden decline in the nature and character of the political parties in the last two decades and it has direct relationship to the issue of accountability," he said, addressing a gathering here.

Pointing out at the lack of structured political parties, Jaitley said, "What has happened in India in last two decades is that there are very few structured parties and I blame all of us together. The Left parties are structured parties and my party to a large extent is a structured party."

"We now have a complete replacement of meritocracy in the country. The Indian mindset has to change and get out of this feudal psyche. The real strength of Indian democracy will emerge when the merit will replace surnames," he said while given importance to merit.

Jaitley gave the example of states like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu where principal political parties are run by families.

"The principal party in India is a crowd around a family. You have political parties led by a charismatic leader who have community support but all of their accounts remain within," he said apparently referring to Congress.

The BJP leader, while referring to other political parties, said, "They are controlled by families, a person. The person normally is charismatic. He has the support of a caste, group or a community behind him. He eliminates all the opposition within the party and succession is on the basis of what happens within the family."

On challenges being faced by the country, Jaitley said the growth which has happened over the years has also given rise to regional aspirations.

"Along with the growth that has happened, there are regions which have developed their aspirations. Unity and sovereignty have been replaced by federal desires...Coalition government are a product of federalism," he said.

Touching upon the issue of allocation of natural resources in his address, he said it should be done on the basis of merit and not discretion.

"In India where you have discretion, you will have more abuse of power than use of power. Therefore, one straight answer for allocation of natural resources is please eliminate discretion and go back to the system of merit," Jaitley said.

The BJP leader also stressed upon improving the quality of people in governance to increase the level of accountability.

For the security issues such as naxalism and terrorism in Kashmir, he said the best way is to win the hearts and minds of people there.

"There is always a question whether to use arms or go for development. But the truth lies somewhere in between. The answer is to alienate the separatists by winning the hearts and minds of the people. Force is required to ensure that the process of development is not stopped midway," he said.

On challenges being faced by the country, Jaitley said the growth which has happened over the years has also given rise to regional aspirations.

"Along with the growth that has happened, there are regions which have developed their aspirations. Unity and sovereignty have been replaced by federal desires...Coalition government are a product of federalism," he said.

Touching upon the issue of allocation of natural resources in his address, he said it should be done on the basis of merit and not discretion.

"In India where you have discretion, you will have more abuse of power than use of power. Therefore, one straight answer for allocation of natural resources is please eliminate discretion and go back to the system of merit," Jaitley said.

The BJP leader also stressed upon improving the quality of people in governance to increase the level of accountability.

For the security issues such as naxalism and terrorism in Kashmir, he said the best way is to win the hearts and minds of people there.

"There is always a question whether to use arms or go for development. But the truth lies somewhere in between. The answer is to alienate the separatists by winning the hearts and minds of the people. Force is required to ensure that the process of development is not stopped midway," he said.

PTI