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Volume 3, No. 12 - June 2004

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Indian democracy in evolution
K. N. Pandita

Sometimes one feels the largest democracy in the world is making a fetish of what ordinarily has to be the crucial responsibility of her political structure. At the end of the day, political parties, though aware of the imperative of graduating the level of election campaigning, come down to mundane levels under the compulsion of low literacy rate of the masses of people and their abysmal political education.

Therefore Indian democracy has a century more to go on with dwindling standards of electioneering.

Indian political parties willfully banish serenity and sobriety of electioneering. Personality cult is tenaciously adhered to because there is the lack of a clear strong social, economic and political agenda before the parties. Common Indian voter is handicapped in voting by reason. Therefore the other option and that is of emotion. This is the reason why for example in the case of Congress, its rank and file clings to Nehruvian symbol or in the case of BJP, to Vajpayee symbol.

Many reasons are given for NDA’s disaster; Hindutva facade, anti-Muslim stance, Gujerat tragedy, sari episode, India shining foolhardiness etc. These may be the reasons. But much stronger reason is the unrelenting antagonism of the print media in this country. Even after the ouster of NDA, the leading Indian newspapers carry full-length condemnation of the party and its ousted regime instead of projecting for the incumbent government many serious economic, political and social issues that steer into the face of the Indian nation. Never has the print media profaned the word “secularism” more than during the past half a decade. It treated the NDA leadership and its vote bank nothing less than pariah and untouchable and thus desecrated the independence of the press with impunity. The BJP failed to counter this massive propaganda through sheer force of impeccable logic.

Furthermore, the BJP never seriously discussed the question of Muslim minority role in Indian political system. It pursued the Congress’ Muslim appeasement policy albeit more crudely with ineffective results.

The time has come when the positive potential of the Muslim vote bank needs to be exploited in the interests of the nation not through appeasement, not through reservations but through assigning to it responsibilities that make them answerable to the Indian nation as a whole. Indian Muslims will always vote for Congress because it was Congress that helped them with two more Muslim states on the subcontinent. Nowhere is the Muslim segment made accountable to broader national interests, to secularist dispensation, to preservation of inter-community harmony, to substantive role in harmonizing with the Muslim world outside India. They are made to look more and more inward and not outward. Who among the political heavyweights in Indian political system asked the Indian Muslim segment to sit down and deliberate over the Kashmir issue or Indo-Pak relations issue or Indo-OIC relations and submit a blue print to the Indian nation for implementation. The incoming government of Congress alliance is least expected to do anything of this sort.

Political parties in this country are the champions of evasive politics. Morality factor is dead long ago and should never be talked about. Since coalition governments appear to be the future political culture of India, decimation of moral and ethical values is the natural corollary. It has to be accepted that rank communalism will work albeit wearing the mask of secularism. The Congress accepted Islamized Kashmir way back in early 1990s and so did the BJP, the party that had once championed the demand of scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and of two flags. Kashmir local leadership, including the separatists and the militant leadership has realized at the end of the day that with Indian soldiers sacrificing their lives at the border and elsewhere in the State is the price India has to pay for their agenda of Islamization of Kashmir. Why not to go with it the whole hog.

Finally it has to be understood that ultimately it is the Muslim minority segment that has to rule the roost, not directly but indirectly and most subtly. The strong non-Muslim segment of civil society supported by the corrupted print media lends outright support to its cause. Why should they ask to take Kashmir to Pakistan when a bigger Pakistan minus overt animus is in making here in India? The BJP government contributed massively to this concept during its four- year tenure in the past. It has made smooth the path for the biggest communal party in India to tread upon.

But circumstances predict that very soon the passionate vocalists of “secularism” will get isolated because in the rush of history when the invisible hand moves and moves, and the nation finds itself transitioned fully to a new socio-political ethos, local leverages will fade away and vanish.

From the mauled and battered BJP, a new national party has to emerge casting aside once for all patently opportunistic affiliates. This party has to emerge on national level making its component segments answerable and accountable to national imperatives. It will be a sad day if the most outstanding leader of national and international stature, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, decides to quit the scene for one or the other reason. It will be suicidal at this juncture of BJP’s history. He has no lieutenant of real caliber to succeed him. He is the only leader with a vision of future. This has to be understood by the farewell speech he gave to the nation on the eve of demitting office. That is one of the greatest speeches of real statesmanship we have in our country’s political history. In the light of that speech, he must sit in the opposition as the leader but at the same time forge a new political party that has goodwill for all and malice towards none.

For his new political party, he must lay down some basic criteria; age, education, antecedents, social affiliation, spirit of service and dedication and loyalty to the leadership. Any specific barometer does not gauge these conditions but a leader of his stature has the grip over nation’s youth. This has to be a party of the youth. All leaders beyond fifty have to be retired. The new party has to be nationalist, built on sound principles of open ideology and economic policies. It has not to be nurtured on hatred towards one or the other ideology. The times have changed. No nation can survive in isolation.

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