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India gradually turning into a banana republic: Dinesh Trivedi

Washington: Removed unceremoniously as Railway Minister at the behest of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, party MP Dinesh Trivedi today said that most of the political parties in India, particularly the regional ones, have become "feudal" where decisions are taken at the whims and fancies of their leaders.

"Sycophancy or 'chamchagiri' is not serving any leader," Trivedi, who is here as part of a Parliamentary delegation, told PTI.

"Sycophancy or 'chamchagiri' is not serving any leader," Trivedi said. PTI

"... slowly, slowly for the last few years a very dangerous trend has come in where most of the political parties have become feudal. There is no internal democracies at all, issues are not debated, issues are not discussed.

"Whatever the head of the party — I am not talking about one political party, I am speaking in general — that is carried on, there is never a debate about it," he said.

In such a situation, he argued party members are scared that if they say something against the leader or the decision taken by the chief, they would not get the election ticket next time.

"At the end of the day for me, country comes first, then comes the family and then comes the party," he said, making it clear that he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as a spokesperson of Trinamool Congress.

Trivedi, 62, was forced to step down as Railway Minister in March by Banerjee who was cut up by his rail budget which proposed hike in passenger fares.

"...if we are only going to serve not the party but an individual then I think, it is going to be very very dangerous development in India, which would be against all the tenets of freedom of expression and democracy," Trivedi said, leaving no one guessing who he was targeting.

"I personally feel that something needs to be done as there is far too much corruption in India and it starts at the political level. Political parties have become feudal," Trivedi said, adding the time has come to look at the "whip system" also.

"In a political party, if I have a different view that does not mean that I am fighting, that's the strength of democracy," he said. "I think more and more we have become intolerant. Politically we have become very intolerant."

In political parties, but for some exception in national parties like the Congress and the BJP, it is one person who takes the decision and there is no scope for collective decision, Trivedi said.

"As far as country is concerned it looks like a banana republic. In America people are asking me, somebody who presents the (railways) budget, is it your personal budget, party budget or federal budget. How come somebody be removed half way when everybody has appreciated the budget?

"So the full democratic process of India has come under a great question mark. I think, it has placed the Indian Parliamentary democracy under some kind of a question mark," he said.

When asked about the performance of the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, Trivedi said he has a lot of appreciation for Chief Minister Banerjee who fought hard for this position for more than three decades.

"But being in the opposition and being in the government are different ball games. When you are in the government people are looking at you to deliver and you have lot of powers. I think, what Bengal needs today is a breath of fresh air.

"We do not want to duplicate what the CPI(M) did, but in many a cases, we are perceived to be doing, perhaps the same or more than that. The rule of law has to be there. Something perhaps is amiss. I can't tell you what," he said.

PTI