Political parties are always in the middle of controversies yet they keep devising methods to steer clear of controversies. Looking at the number of controversies they keep getting embroiled in doesn’t seem like they have managed to devise any successful methods.
I get particularly peeved when I see parties distancing themselves from statements made by members of their own party and terming such statements as ‘individual opinion’ that the rest of the party doesn’t endorse. This always seems to me to be the ultimate fraudulent, cover-up act that falls on its own face.
What or who is a party? A party is made by a group of individuals who collectively support an ideology or a purpose or an end objective. So it is made up of people with opinions and ideas. So, this group of people is the party and the party is the people. People evolve the party evolves and some ideas change and some disagreements also arise. The opinion of one individual cannot be considered to be the opinion of an entire party as then it is not a party but an individual with a group of followers and yet if it has to remain a party even individual opinions should be considered as party opinion
One might argue that there are so many party workers who support the party for reasons known best to them. How could the party take the responsibility of so many people coming from disparate background and with disparate objectives? This somehow seems hypocritical that a party doesn’t hesitate benefiting from the labor of a party worker but would not standby the same worker’s opinions when expressed in public. Then the question arises how higher up in the party hierarchy should a party worker be for his opinion to be also considered as official party opinion? Obviously when opinions are expressed by party workers and it is worth air time on TV or space in the print media then it is somebody significant enough in the party hierarchy. Yet very conveniently parties distance themselves from anything said and not favored by media or larger section of people.
Parties might also argue that there is a consensus opinion and then there is an individual opinion. If party is formed by group of people with common ideology then either they shouldn’t have differences of opinion or there should not be anything called a ‘consensus opinion’. Even if one important member of the party has a different opinion then obviously consensus cannot be said to have emerged. Either the party should have discussed on all matters of importance and ensure each individual endorses the same opinion or refrain from talking in the public domain. However the truth is that the issues are so many and the world so dynamic that a party can’t imagine meeting on all matters repeatedly or imagine for there to be a consensus on all matters. A party that can’t accommodate differences of opinion can’t stay a single unit for long.
Thus I conclude that individual opinion is just as much a party opinion as any. Infact as I indicate above there might not be anything called as a party opinion in most of the cases. So I think next time we hear any party distancing itself from statements made by any party member; we need to observe the individual in question, his seniority, the ulterior motive and decide for ourselves if really the party could distance itself from what is said or is it a double game the party intends to play!