India is considered the world’s largest democracy, but does the result of 15th Lok Sabha elections in India corroborate this claim? Yes and No. There is no doubt that an election process with its widely acclaimed universal adult franchise system has been concluded peacefully and some definite results have been announced. But the whole process has been unduly drawn out and the net results do not really reflect the mood of the nation and its people. If the previous two general elections reflected the popular mood for a change of guard in a healthy fashion, what has come out as latest election results portent a potential degenerative tendency in Indian democracy. Our remarkable tryst in 1947 with democratic destiny reached rock bottom in 1975, then started climbing back to glory and now again it looks to be heading for degeneration into a distorted democracy. As in secularism, we are distorting democracy too for formalizing the rule by a dozen families in various parts of India by merely manipulating victory in elections.
Democracy can definitely be considered as the most civilized, progressive and just form of governance in the 21st century. But it must be true democracy involving political parties with definite and different agenda. Otherwise it can become worse than monarchy or theocracy or fascist communism. Ideally, all those who are eligible must be listed, a majority of eligible voters must vote and ultimately those who claim victory must have support of more than 50% of the whole national population. In that sense only those parties or pre-poll alliances that have won more than 500 million votes can claim victory in India. As the voting percentage was only about 50%, this may be too ideal in present day Indian politics. But the simple fact that we have now ended up with an ‘elected’ government headed by an ‘unelected’ leader shows the sham that is enveloping our democracy. Electoral reforms must be at the very top of the agenda of any government in India today.
Doubtful Umpiring & Unelected Leader
The darkest shadow over India’s 15th General Elections has been cast by doubts about impartiality of the Election Commission itself. Election is all about faith & fair play and how can there be confidence on results if there are strong doubts about integrity & interests of those who are conducting the elections. It is not one or a dozen of MPs’ who had pointed fingers at a particular member of the Election Commission. When about half the number of sitting MPs’ had appealed for his dismissal and when the Chief Election Commissioner himself had recommended his removal, the least that could be done was to keep him away from this particular all important elections. We should also remember that the same person was specifically singled out by the famous Shah Commission as not fit enough to hold any public office in India. The extensive use of Electronic Voting Machines - EVMs (not even done in advanced countries like USA) makes the shadows even darker. Post poll audit of randomly picked 10,000 EVMs from all over India, by an independent agency like the Supreme Court, can restore our confidence at least to respectable levels now.
But the ‘most unkindest cut’ to Indian democracy has come in the form of an ‘unelected’ leader for the newly elected members of the Lok Sabha. Writers of our constitution never even dreamt of such a possibility. Otherwise they would have definitely closed such a loop hole which is now wide open and being ‘mis’used for the last several years. The underlying moral strength of leadership in parliamentary democracy is convincing victory in elections and not nomination by party leaderships. What has happened now is complete hijacking of people’s mandate for nomination of someone who never faced the electorate. It is ‘mukhota’ politics of the worst kind. The eminently qualified Dr. Manmohan Singh could have got himself elected from any constituency anywhere in India to avoid such a controversy. That was the minimum he could have done for the sake of nurturing true democracy in India.
Dying Parties & Developing Families
Weakening of genuine political parties offering definite alternatives in all walks of life is another sad feature noticed during the latest general elections. In a true democracy we should be witnessing strengthening of political parties with clear cut policies in economical, social, political and even international affairs. In India this is practiced mainly by the right wing and left wing parties, and hardly by the middle of the road non-aligned political parties. Most of the centrist parties in India indulge in vote-bank politics and have their own captive voters in the form of some castes or belonging to some religion or region. Hardcore supporters of such namesake political parties have blind faith in their evergreen leaders and never bother to read their manifestos. And then there are some monolith parties which resemble more of a mediocre crowd of onlookers than a group of people with specific aims and agenda.
The weakening of genuine political parties is adding to the strength of family oriented political groupings. In fact this is a growing problem in the whole of south Asia and has made a mockery of democracy in these parts. In India it is now Nehru family at the Centre, Dixit family in Delhi, Karunanidhi family in Chennai, Patnaik family in Orissa, Hudda family in Haryana, Badal family in Punjab, Deora family in Mumbai, Abdulla family in Kashmir, Sangma family in North East, Reddy family in Andhra, Maani family in Kerala etc. etc. Every other MP is the son, daughter, nephew or niece of someone big in the same party. It is really a matter of grave concern and shame that the political party, that claims to be the oldest in India, is degenerating into a blatantly family party. Open and unabashed sycophancy is the main trait of that party. Those Europeans who have literarily (re)captured the top party slots must be wondering at the intensity of sycophancy, extend of selfishness and depths of disgrace that some members of the oldest civilisation in the world are capable of descending to. Robert Clive, Thomas Macaulay and Max Muller must be laughing in their graves.
It is most certain that India will retain its essential democratic character thanks to the importance of general democratic principles in the faith of its majority citizens. The moment such a majority is lost, for which efforts in the form of organized religious conversions are in full force, India will also slip into anarchy, monarchy, military dictatorships or hopeless communism like its neighbours. But what is of immediate worry is its degeneration into a ‘shamful’ federal setup of distorted democracy. At this rate, we may need only a few mini-elections within certain families to determine the Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers of India. At least we can save the millions of rupees spend on making a mockery of general elections in this way. It is time for the real majority of India to act in a decisive manner. Their indifference can prove fatal for their children and the Indian nation.