ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uttar Pradesh Elections

A Duel in or for Democracy?

The people’s mandate in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party has consolidated the aggressive, masculine, and religious majoritarianism of the “new India” cherished by the Sangh Parivar. This further squeezed the little public space available for the marginalised sections of the society, especially Muslims. The formation of a group of compromised citizens who are ready to give up their social and political rights for the right to live is burgeoning in the state.

It can be surmised that the recently concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) was a duel between the Hindutva model of politics and governance and those who were opposed to it. On the ground, the battle was between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and their respective alliances. On the one hand, the BJP and its activists were sure about their victory. They were sure of their social base and the schemes’ benefits received by the poor under Yogi Adityanath’s government. On the other hand, SP activists started their campaign by putting up a light-emitting diode (LED) machine counting back the days remaining when the party’s government came into Lucknow. Aa rahe hai Akhilesh (Akhilesh is coming), was echoing among workers and the realm beyond it.

The SP was counting on the newly formed alliance with a few smaller parties along with the enormous issues that were not properly dealt with by the BJP. These ­issues were: unemployment, farmers’ agitation, lack of investment in the state, stray animals, and foremost physical ­attack on the Dalits and Muslims by the elements “allegedly” supported by the party in power and administration. However, it was felt that throughout the five-year rule of the BJP the opposition was absent and numb on all the above issues. The question is why? A fear of ­biased police and administrative action was found while talking to some of the activists of the opposition parties about inaction against the bad governance. It was further argued that, with the massive electoral victory in UP, the government used its institutions, especially the police to cripple the oppositional activities. On this count, Alexis de Tocqueville (2010) reminds us that an omnipotent government cannot safeguard the liberty of its citizens. In the process of “democracy devouring itself”1 through a personality, ethnic majority parties or any exclusive ideological organisation, it demonises, intimidates, and victimises (and occasi­onally even jails or murders) opponents who get in their way. Space for opposition parties, civil society, and the media shrinks. Ethnic, religious, and other identity cleavages polarise many societies that lack well-designed democratic institutions to manage those cleavages and the bureaucracy lacks the policy expertise and, even more so, the independence, neutrality, and authority to effectively manage the economy. Weak economic performance and rising inequality exacerbate the problems of abuse of power, rigging of elections, and violation of the democratic rules of the game (Diamond 2015).

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Updated On : 11th Jun, 2022
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