Why elections in India are not completely democratic
Democracy is the only possible form of government considering the demographic and geographic dimensions of India. Elections and electoral process are the main democratic methods which explicitly indicate that a democracy is working. Elections indicate that the citizens are allowed to express their choice freely and are permitted to elect their representatives without any illegitimate influence and interference.
But, if it is indicated that undue influences are employed and uncalled for interferences are resorted to stage manage the results it means the elections are not entirely democratic and the democracy is not complete democracy. Whoever does so and whichever party is responsible for that the prognosis remains the same.
We cannot say that one party is legitimately authorized to manage the elections and elections results by resorting to unfair means and all the rest are prohibited to do so. In the same way we cannot single out a party and prohibit it from doing what all the rest are doing. Doing that has the potential of harming the hard earned democracy even more in the country.
It cannot be said that political parties should not try to influence the outcome of elections in their favor; they are there to do that only as long as they do it democratically and legitimately. But it is observed that the political parties of the country use undemocratic and at times illegitimate means to influence the outcome of the elections. And, power equations in the country change drastically owing to this undue influence and by the use of illegitimate means and methods in elections.
First major threat, and unfair means, which is used in elections without any check, and literally without any limits, is the use of disproportionately very higher amounts of money than is permissible in the statues of the country. Such humongous amounts of money are now involved in elections in India that it has rendered many genuine and sincere prospective candidates, for various posts of legislature in the federal structure, simply unable to fight the elections. Howsoever, capable these candidates may be, howsoever concerned they may be about the plight of the poor people of the country and howsoever they may be craving to better the conditions of these people but they cannot do so. They cannot do so for the simple reason that they don’t have money. When they don’t have money they are out of the race. Getting elected is a herculean task for those money-less candidates who somehow manage to file their nomination papers.
Legally or illegally money is involved in every step of elections, from distribution of tickets to influencing the behaviour of the voters to in the formation of the government money is used everywhere. Political parties, it has been viewed, distribute tickets to only those people who are ready to pay a cost for the tickets. Those who don’t pay any charge are not considered.
In preparation of elections manifestos, in media and social media campaigns, in arranging and organising election rallies and congregations and even in buying the voters, money is used. Those who are able to spend more money in these things and activities have the sure chances of getting through.
The involvement of money beyond the permissible limits is an open but hidden secret (hidden secret equals to secret). It is open secret because all know that illegal money change hands in elections for manipulating the elections, and electoral processes. And, it is a hidden secret for getting statistics of the same is difficult thing to do. The political parties provide no details of it and the details they give about the election expenditure are never of that money which is expended beyond the permissible levels.
Besides, money many other undue influences impact the election outcomes in India. They include the communalism and religious affiliations of the electorate. The political parties of the country never miss to exploit these issues and they craftily rake up the issues. Those things which are normal for a pluralistic society, like India, are tried to be exploited to make the electorate to show a particular pattern in their voting behaviour. In majority of the cases the political parties succeed in achieving what they intent to accomplish.
Caste issues are not left out, they too are exploited. A political party calculates the caste equation of a constituency or a state and the party support those castes only supporting which gives it the electoral gains. In the same manner it goes against those which opposing whom again is calculated in terms the electoral gains of that opposition.
The political parties blame each other for the pathetic plight of certain caste groups and try to take credit of the good work that has been done for the castes. The parties even go to the extent of creating inter caste rivalries to exploit the emotions and feelings of these people. Once the emotions and feelings are charged and ill will is generated, the political parties try to reap their benefits.
Poor people of the country who remain out of the memory lanes of the parties and politicians suddenly find their place there immediately before the elections. They are remembered afresh only to be forgotten again and all new promises are made with them. They are bombarded with the propaganda of these parties that they are rendered unable to think rationally that all the earlier made promises have not been kept.
In fact, it is the predicament of their poverty which prevents them to behave normally. In their hopes to get out of the predicament of poverty they believe the politicians whenever any promises are made with the poor. Eventually all the promises, previous and the new ones, prove as fake and farces.
Every issue that the political parties and politicians feel could give them electoral dividends is raised and raked up. All the issues which are less intense and less damaging are made more intense and more damaging during the election days. Communalism, casteism, poverty and other national issues are exploited to gain and maintain the power. If everything else fails, direct criminalization is used to intimidate the voters. For this criminals are even provided party tickets which have become a kind of precedent in the country.
Normally, people should have been allowed to act out of their own free will and choice; that is democratic. People should have been allowed to elect or reject the candidates based on their past performance and the sincerity of their promises. There should have been limit to the use of propaganda and money in the elections, and if the limit is there it should be kept, nobody should be allowed to go beyond the limit. Painfully, the conditions are such all the limits are crossed in the use of propaganda and money.
Moreover, all the political parties habitual of raking up the caste and communal issues during the times of elections should have been identified and punished, not only by the constitutional and law enforcement agencies of the country but also by the public. These agencies and the public must now act more wisely to make the country to move out of the current predicament of communalism, casteism, poverty, hunger and homelessness of the poor. Else elections will continue fall short of being democratic. That must not be an option now; maturity is the need of the time which all the concerned should display.
Passionate Writer, Author and an aspiring system builder.