Veteran politician and former External Affairs Minister SM Krishna says all parties in the country lack internal democracy, and fear of criticising the leadership in power has to be ''abandoned''.
The former Karnataka chief minister was all praise for the functioning of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi but said the Congress is still a potent force and could pose major electoral challenges to the JP Nadda-led party, with regrouping of regional outfits.
He, however, said BJP, which he joined more than three years ago after over 45 years of association with the Congress, is sure to return to power in the 2024 Parliamentary elections with PM Modi once again as Prime Minister.
In an interview to PTI on Thursday, Mr Krishna said political parties need to evolve a system which has a semblance of internal democracy.
"Every political party suffers from lack of internal democracy. We need to evolve a system which has (at least) a semblance of internal democracy. Fear of criticising the leadership in power has to be abandoned," the former Maharashtra Governor said.
"The kind of internal democracy that was prevalent during the Gandhi Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose era. That could be taken as a model. Reorient that to the changed situations. That would be an ideal which we can seek and practice," added the 88-year old leader.
Asked about Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress and joined the BJP earlier this year, and Sachin Pilot's recent revolt against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, he claimed that it was part of a "deep-rooted malaise" in that party.
"...and the malaise is the absence of a vent for youngsters like them to express their opinion and make space for themselves. Older generation must make space for youngsters but remain in the party's core to guide the young generation," Mr Krishna said.
Further referring to the Congress, he said a political party must evolve itself to the emerging challenges, it cannot be stagnant and there must be scope and room for vibrant debate.
Youngsters must be given a chance to speak up and work, and there must be some mechanism where their voices are heard.
"We must not allow the feelings, sentiments, emotions and frustrations to get bottled-up; if it explodes, then the damage is collateral. There must be a vent for the workers to express their opinion freely and frankly," Mr Krishna said.
If the party does not evolve; change and transform, then it starts decaying. The party must look back only for two purposes first, to draw inspiration and second, to draw appropriate lessons from the past, he opined.
"You cannot keep on harping on what you did in the past. You must be forward-looking, positive-minded and keep on moving and marching ahead. You cannot afford to be a prisoner of your wrong decisions taken in the past due to political considerations and electoral expediency," he commented, in an apparent dig at the Congress.
On his experience with the BJP, Mr Krishna said it has been very pleasant.
He had seen BJP and its leaders as well as workers from a distance but being inside and getting their acquaintance is really a pleasant experience.
"I am happy and I think I did a wise thing in joining the BJP. I am happy also because of the fact that PM Modi is doing a job which has made me and all of us proud that we are part of that developmental journey," Mr Krishna elaborated.
He, however, also had a word of caution for the BJP, saying there are also regional outfits with national garb which cannot be brushed aside.
Also, the Congress was still a potent force though vanquished now, but it cannot be ignored. "The challengers are going to regroup and could emerge as a major challenge."
On the perception in some quarters that the BJP today has no strong opposition, Mr Krishna said in whatever form and nature, there was opposition both in Karnataka as well at the Centre.
"BJP is bound and sure to return to power in the 2024 Parliamentary elections with PM Modi once again as PM. BJP's victory is based on its inherent strength and intrinsic character," he said.
According to him, inherent strength stems from two factors. First is the people''s support on account of good performance in the government including various "historic decisions" taken by PM Modi and his team and second is the organisational structure.
Today, the BJP's organisational network extends and expands from booth-level, panchayat level to the Parliament.
The party cadre acts as a bridge between the government and the people.
"Party workers take the government's message to the people; impress upon them the good deeds of the government and on the basis of this seek votes. The BJP's fantastic victory in the 2019 Parliament elections is on a positive vote and this positive vote is based on the remarkable performance of the government between 2014 and 2019," he added.
Praising PM Modi, Mr Krishna said the political stability mixed with vibrant economic activity prevails in the country today thanks to the pro-active, dynamic, long-range and meticulous thinking of the Prime Minister.
"The mood is upbeat. There is positivity all around. There is no charge of corruption against the Prime Minister or against the government. Those who tried to level allegations have bit the dust. India is being looked up with awe and respect world-over. There is a whiff of fresh air. PM Modi has ushered in a qualitative transformation in all walks of life," he claimed.
"He (PM Modi) is a good and patient listener; he is keen to know and learn things. He is not hasty; he thinks thousand times before arriving at any decision. He consults many but takes a decision independently. He does not blame anybody if the decision goes wrong. He takes upon himself but he gives credit in case of success," Mr Krishna said.
PM Modi, he said, attributes the success to people's support and then to the party workers, later to the government officials and then to Cabinet colleagues, takes responsibility upon himself and never shies away from handling the crisis.