Evolution of democracy

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/14/2020 1:04:40 PM IST

 What is clearly evident today is that prime minister Narendra Modi is the unchallenged political leader of the country, a feat that was earlier only achieved by late Indira Gandhi. Of course Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the unchallenged leader of a free India but he was accepted by Indians throughout and not solely as head of a dominant political party. It would also not be incorrect to point out that winning elections is not everything in democracy. Many past leaders like Nehru or Indira Gandhi had won successive elections. They reigned supreme in the absence of politicians with a pan-India image to challenge them. However, it must also be added that Nehru and Indira worked within the realms of what is known as the Lakshman -Rekha of Indian politics. They may have practised vote bank politics or attempted to appease the weaker sections of society; but these were meant for winning elections. Beyond this, both were accommodating, democratic and accepted dissent and criticisms as part of Indian democracy. After Vajpayee and especially in the post-2014 period, the BJP itself has undergone a sea change from being a political party into an ideological entity. It has been pitching for a nationalistic fervour and projecting Modi as the only leader who can be trusted to lead India. The electorate do not necessarily subscribe to the any particular ideology. However the rise of Modi has brought up a totally different brand of politics. It is not about the idea of India but the ideology of India. Indian electoral politics is about religion, caste and economics with the former two playing a more dominant roles in shaping the electoral fortunes. Modi’s electoral triumph embodies an alternative idea of India: soaked in a hard nationalism and an unapologetic espousal of Hindu identity wrapped within a more efficient welfare state. Modi has followed the marketing strategy of fast-moving consumer goods and sold himself as the biggest brand of development politics. In every election, the focus is about development versus terrorism. It is a persistence with selling the idea of Hindu majority being threatened by internal and external enemies. He has gone beyond ‘regulation Hinduism’ to a muscular version of resurgent neo-Hinduism. Thanks to another persistent and also brilliant strategy of making news through the “unblinking eye” of largely tamed television, the insanity of social media and the endless WhatsApp forwards, Modi has become symbolised as a presidential prime minister. The absence of a strong opposition has caused a void where the aggressive rebranding of politics has also resulted in evolution of perception among voters. Voters have increasingly become consumers of branded products. So, catching and connecting with voters has become vital. The Bihar election was also another example of the inability of the rainbow coalition of opposition parties in being able to play under the new rules of the game of politics. The opposition can be faulted for overestimating their winnability and underestimating the BJP/NDA’s determination to win at any cost. The institutional referees who would have ensured fair play is being missed and this has become more pronounced and which should be a worry for Indian democracy.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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