EDITORIAL: Under the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) rule Indian democracy is fast becoming an autocracy. Since Narendra Modi came to power in 2914, nearly 95 percent of the cases pursued by the country’s two main agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, say reports, have been against opposition politicians.

Last month, the country’s financial crimes agency arrested Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and leader of the Aam Admi Party over corruption allegations. The same month, hours after he resigned as the CM of Jharkhand state, Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, was similarly arrested on corruption charges.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the Congress, whose bank accounts have been frozen over a tax dispute, has been complaining that it is unable to properly run its election campaign. Notably, these parties are part of the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which is all set to challenge prime minister Modi in the upcoming general elections.

Major players in the system seem to be lending a helping hand to his push to punish dissent. Last Monday, a Delhi court extended Kejriwal’s detention until April 15, i.e., four days before the voting for the 7-phased general elections is to start. The election commission, once highly regarded for being fiercely independent of political influence, appears to be unable or unwilling to deliver on its constitutional responsibility of holding the electoral exercise in a fair and free manner.

Some have taken issue with its decision to spread the elections over six long weeks, viewed as a concession to Modi, as it would provide him with ample time to personally reach out to voters all across the country. Interestingly, Kejriwal has been implicated in a corruption case because having rode to the office of Delhi CM office on the back of a popular anti-corruption movement, he pointed the finger at Modi’s shady deals with his corporate sector cronies.

But anyone and everyone can be a target. India has never been a robust democracy it claimed to be. In no other government, however, has the minority rights been under such grave threat and the space for freedom of expression as well as adversarial electoral contestation so constricted as Modi and his men have done during the last decade.

The arrest of Kejriwal, some other opposition figures, and unleashing of punitive action by investigating agencies have raised serious questions about the path the ’world’s largest democracy’ has taken.

The experience of some other countries, nonetheless, shows that the use of such high -handed tactics tends to draw a backlash from the people. The Modi-led BJP could end up creating a sympathy wave for Kejriwal, the Congress Party and others in the opposition alliance. It remains to be seen, though, if the elections produce a result many in India, especially minority communities, long for.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Apr 06, 2024 11:36am
Please don't insult democracy, we will soon see legislation on Hindutva as a undeniable law which will be punished on similar lines when anyone denies holocaust. Hitler's philosophy, leading to war.
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Re=== Apr 07, 2024 04:36am
@KU, Absolutely, this is exactly why we want to vote for Modi. Haters can hate. We dont care.
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KU Apr 07, 2024 09:59pm
@Re===, don't worry, you might get more than your wish. There are many other ways to overcome low self esteem, but extinct civilizations too had your mindset.
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Re=== Apr 11, 2024 06:46pm
@KU, Yeah we might go extinct in may be 100 or 200 years, true. Pakistan is extinct now!. Let that sink in.
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