India’s Flawed Democracy
Delhi assembly elections were held on February 8 and only after more than twenty four hours the Election Commission announced the official percentage of voters, leading to much suspicion and suspense. A total of 62.59 percent out of 1.47 crore eligible residents came out to cast their vote, a decline of 4.88 percent from previous assembly election in 2015. As the country’s capital receives the people’s verdict today, the 11th of February, India waits with bated breath to see if the Kejriwal government overshadows Amit Shah’s efforts or vice versa. India is currently reeling over protests against the controversial new citizenship law — Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) — that for the first time determines Indian citizenship on the basis of religion, and an underlying fear of growing authoritarianism and Hindu majoritarianism. The verdict of this half state will not only decide who will be in control over the next five years but will also leave an imprint on the rest of India and impact the present system of Indian politics.
The campaign trail was highly charged; the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded nearly 250 of its MPs to campaign for just over 70 assembly seats, and the party’s former president and India’s home minister Amit Shah was leading from the front for this election. Shah campaigned door-to-door and shared his message through rallies. The focus of the BJP was to turn majority of voters to their message. Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Kejriwal banked on the list of development works done by his government on issues of the common man; he stressed on education, electricity, water and health. Reducing air pollution was one of the main guarantees given by AAP, both in the party’s manifesto and guarantee card. Whilst BJP and AAP resorted to hard-hitting campaigns on targeted issues, Congress took a laid-back approach with very few senior party members working to support its candidates. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former prime minister Manmohan Singh entered the scene to address public gatherings quite late.
India’s Constitution, which turned 70 years old in January, promises that the state would treat all Indians as inalienable individuals, not divide them into communal groups. Religious identity has played an elemental role in Indian politics since independence, however, the Constitution guarantees protection for minority groups. It remains to be seen whether the unabated civil unrest will amount to a viable political challenge. Few people believed during the time of India’s independence in 1947 that democracy was advisable or even possible for India, but despite the challenges of widespread poverty, vast diversity of groups and persistent abuses of power, India became a democracy and remains one today. Will Shah’s efforts prove fruitful or will Kejriwal government’s performance win them the fight? To what extent Congress’s half-hearted fight will affect the election results? How was the vote split? Today will reveal how India’s flawed democracy voted.