Indian Politics- Democracy Wins
Last several years witnessed demonstrations all over the world especially with regard to people’s movement against the establishment. Egypt, Syria, Lahore and New Delhi – to name only a few. These movements are reminiscent of great socialist movements in Russia, China and other communist countries in early twentieth century. Even one can compare Tehreer Square of Egypt with Tiananmen Square of China since the end result of both is known to everybody.
On the other hand, the ‘India against Corruption’ (IAC) movement in India started by Anna Hazare was by and large peaceful. Hazare is a crusader against corruption, started his career as a soldier-driver in Army and later raised his voice against corruption in Maharashtra, India. Successes achieved in the State led him to believe he could replicate the same in whole of the country. So he came to the center stage in New Delhi. His action was prompted by the ruling party’s indifference to mounting miseries of the people in India. India has never recorded as many Scams as in the past five years. Money is swindled and deposited in Swiss banks which are regarded as safe havens for black money with the presumption that nobody can know about them. Of late, Capitalist economy, more so with little government regulatory controls, has helped money accumulation in a few hands. Estate dealers and Fly by night operates have looted poor citizens of India. Legal and illegal betting has been promoted under the very nose of Government like IPL and betting in Cricket. Politicians, bureaucrats, film makers, cricketers and middlemen – all are involved while the poor of India helplessly watch on.
Anna’s IAC movement achieved initial successes and many politicians such as Communists and Trinamul Congress, who are ideologically committed to transparent government functioning, lent their support. But majority of political parties regarded the movement, known popularly by the name of ‘Jan Lok Pal Andholan’, to be against their interests. Among them were hardcore socialists like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Sharad Yadav and the rest in addition to Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party. The Janlokpal bill which was aimed to be a watchdog of government functioning was finally passed after a lot of strife but the clever politicians diluted it to a great extent to safeguard their interests. Since Anna Hazare could not attract substantial number of people in Mumbai, some politicians even ridiculed and challenged him to show his prowess in the elections and demonstrate whether people really supported him and his brand of political set up. That ignited the fuse. Anna’s chief assistant, Arvind Kejriwal, an IITian ex-bureaucrat running an NGO, took leave of him and floated a political party, called Aam Admi Party, much against his wishes. Kejriwal was accompanied by many of his hardcore supporters who wanted to show the Indian politicians that we too can do it. Despite Hazare’s soft corner for his favorite disciple, Kejriwal, the former could not expressly approve of the launch of the political party.
And then the Delhi Assembly elections were held in 2013. Aam Admi Party, regarded by political pundits as a party of no consequence won 28 seats as against 32 seats won by BJP in an assembly of 70 while Congress was a distant third with just 8 seats. This was a substantial victory for Kejriwal as he had steered his party to such a win against all odds. He, however, took support of the same party viz Congress which he had labeled as corrupt and formed a government only to find it could not run and therefore resigned after 49 days. But by the time he had played his game deftly. He had announced several concessions for poor people in Delhi knowing fully that burden of such concessions will be borne be the next government and not by his party if he is not elected. The concessions worked wonders and convinced people that he was their Messiah.
The assembly elections in Delhi were followed by Lok Sabha elections all over the country with a high voltage campaign. Narendra Modi was chosen by Bhartiya Janta Party as their Prime Ministerial candidate who spared no effort to ensure his success with a thumping majority by travelling all over the country, delivering lectures to huge gatherings of people among chants of ‘Modi, Modi’ and promising moon to them while braving the threats of terror plots. Not to be undermined, Arvind Kejriwal, who had earlier trounced Sheila Dixit the then CM of Delhi, chose to fight elections against Narendra Modi in Varanasi with the idea that his win would give him immediate recognition all over India. He, however, avoided any fight against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and Rae Bareilly respectively and Narendra Modi in Vadodra Gujarat. The enthusiasm amongst his party workers was immense especially in urban areas where most of the intellectuals, human rights activists and environmental activists lend their support to Aam Admi Party (AAP). But the bubble burst as the party could not open account anywhere in the country except Punjab where 4 of its candidates were returned while 413 candidates lost their deposits in the rest of the country.
Reversals in Lok Sabha elections did not deter Kejriwal from looking to Delhi as his main bastion to restart his campaign. So he concentrated back on impending Delhi elections. While BJP was rejoicing on its Lok Sabha success and Congress was bemoaning on its failure, AAP was out on streets of Delhi trying to listen to people, identifying with them, and lending them a helping hand wherever possible. Their elected MLAs spent funds allotted to them on public works of importance since the Assembly had still not been dissolved. This rapport paid in the long run. The Central Government on the other hand did nothing perceptible to win over the masses. No sops, no reduction of prices, no ‘Achche Din’ as promised. In fact, luck had provided a chance for BJP to use the drastic fall in petroleum prices to their advantage but they refused to pass on the benefit to people entirely. Price reduction in food articles and vegetables, railway tickets and other perceptible things would have worked wonders. But that was not to be.
The elections to Delhi assembly were held on February 07, 2015 and results declared on February 10, 2015. AAP won with an unprecedented majority never witnessed before. They cornered 67 seats out of 70 seats while BJP could only get 3 and Congress drew a blank. Failure to fulfill tall promises made by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, has been adequately replied by the people of Delhi who remain in the thick of politics day in and day out. But on the other hand, the revolutionary party, AAP, too has promised free wi-fi, free water up to a limit and 50% reduction in electricity prices besides full statehood and fool proof security of women to the people of Delhi and their performance will have to be gauged in future. They have five years to perform in a State that is limited in authority by not being a full-fledged state. What they will do remains to be seen. Surely these developments may have an effect on our neighboring countries too especially Pakistan where Imran Khan has been trying to stage a similar coup through ballot. Indian People have demonstrated that Democracy is above all other things in India.