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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 12, New Delhi, March 7, 2020

Triumph of Democracy: Politics of Work Defeated the Politics of Religion

Monday 9 March 2020

by Debtanu Majee

The massive victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the recently held Delhi Assembly elections indicates that the citizens of India, and especially Delhi, are exhausted with the politics of religion promoted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the last six years. The Delhiites favoured the AAP over the BJP as it was successful in addressing the local issues like providing free electricity to families consuming electricity upto 200 units a month, air pollution, water supply and developing the education sector immensely. On the contrary the BJP failed miserably throughout India to resolve the crisis of human security.

Some scholars are of the opinion that the BJP-led Central Government is pursuing negative politics. The politics of religion is not a progressive idea; rather it has threatened the social fabric of India. Furthermore the recent policies of the Central Government from the GST to CAA have made it unpopular. Machiavelli, the famous Italian thinker of the Renaissance period, suggested that in order to rule the king must possess two qualities: the courage of a lion and the cunning of a fox.1 The BJP as the ruling party of India does possess the courage of a lion but lacks the cunning of a fox. The BJP took courage to end the triple talaq, scrapped Articles 370 and 35A, introduced CAA but it failed to attract the citizens comprehensively to support the government in implementing these policies. It is pertinent to mention that a majority government may not always enjoy the trust of its citizens and in a democracy the trust of the citizens matter the most than anything else. Even a military coup cannot rule without the support of the citizens.

Ending triple talaq was definitely a positive step accomplished by the BJP Government and they should be praised for that. There was a mixed reaction in the country while Articles 370 and 35A were scrapped. But issues related to CAA, NRC and NPR have backfired for the BJP. The BJP-led Central Government should have informed the citizens at first about the procedures related to NRC and NPR and then they could have implemented the CAA. During the Assembly elections in Delhi, the BJP did not have any new strategy. They again relied on the politics of religion to win the election.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the BJP secured seven out of seven seats in Delhi and got 56.86 per cent of the votes polled. The AAP failed to open its account in the Lok Sabha elections and secured only 18.2 per cent of the total votes polled.2

The picture has changed completely in the Assembly elections. The AAP won 62 seats out of 70 while the BJP won eight seats and the other parties failed to open their account.3 Now the question is: why did the BJP fail so miserably in this Assembly election in Delhi and other recently concluded Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Jharkhand? The answer to this is elaborated in the following points.

Religion-driven Politics tarnished
the Image of BJP 

Politics based on religion jeopardised the secular nature of the Indian state. Secularism demands that religion should not interfere in the public life of the people. In India the concept of secularism is itself vague and it has encouraged the interference of religion in every aspect of the people’s lives. The Congress failed to resolve the issues related to Hindu-Muslim controversy regarding Ram Mandir and the influx of refugee from Pakistan and Bangladesh since the time of independence. The BJP under Narendra Modi came to power by promising the citizens that they will resolve these issues and they have fulfilled the promises they made in their election agenda. However, the unreasonable application of religion to steer the politics of the day has ultimately jeopardised the security of minority communities and exposed the communal nature of the BJP Government.

The social movements launched in different parts of India today protesting against the CAA shows that the people of minority communities, especially the Muslims, are scared that they may lose their citizenship and India may be transformed into a Hindu Rashtra. Suddenly the people of minority communities are lacking faith in the BJP Government. It is probably the arrogance of the BJP leadership that is creating a distance between the government and the citizens that is not a good sign for democracy. Politics was shaped by religion in the Middle Ages and we all are well aware about the dangerous conse-quences of that period. People should abstain from voting on the basis of religion. Religion-oriented politics should be transformed into development-oriented politics.

It is good to see that the people of Delhi voted on the basis of development and set an example for other States in India that they should abandon religion-based politics. Politics of religion has tarnished the image of the BJP Government and this has impacted the ballot box in the recently concluded Assembly elections.

Good Governance 

The AAP satisfied the desires and ambitions of the people of Delhi by ensuring good governance. Arvind Kejriwal from the very beginning was committed to maintain a corruption-free administration. Mohalla clinics launched by the AAP to provide health care facilities to the common people have safeguarded the health security of the common mass to a great extent. Furthermore the initiative of the AAP-led State Government to provide free electricity upto 200 units of consumption made the people happy. Good education was also prioritised.

The AAP also took major initiatives to ensure a better natural environment for Delhi by implementing the Environment Compensation Charge, banning the use of coal, planting trees and appointing environment Marshalls to curtaile the burning of garbage.4 Thus it can be said that the AAP has promoted good governance and the opposition parties have been outplayed to counter the development oriented programs of the AAP.

Disappearance of Modi Magic

 

In 2014 when the BJP came to power it was Narendra Modi who had a larger than life image. There was a perception among the citizens of India that Modi will transform India into a world power. Modi was successful to some extent in advancing India’s position in world politics by employing smart diplomacy. However, during the second tenure of Narendra Modi’s government, economic crisis and human insecurity due to issues like NRC, NPR, CAA, attacks on students of reputed universities, rise of food prices and so on and so forth have reduced his popularity. In the Delhi Assembly elections also the BJP expected a Modi Magic but the people preferred Kejriwal over Modi.

Smart Politics by Arvind Kejriwal and AAP

Arvind Kejriwal was called a terrorist by the BJP’s Parvesh Verma. In reply Kejriwal said that the people of Delhi will decide whether he was the brother, son or terrorist. The AAP in its electoral campaign highlighted the develop-mental activities that it undertook. They did not attack the BJP nor address the negative activities of the BJP, rather promoted positive politics. Besides Kejriwal was intelligent enough to manoeuvre a soft Hindutva politics. The AAP also used the social media platform to counter the anti-AAP propaganda of the BJP’s IT cell. Arvind Kejriwal and his party should be credited for this positive politics that the Indian democracy was lacking for a long period.

Conclusion

When the people go to vote in the State Assembly elections they focus on the local issues. The regional parties are preferred over national parties in these elections. When the BJP was defeated in Maharashtra and Jharkhand it was said that the people are against Hindutva politics and so they replaced the BJP Government. However, the parties that won in those two States did not pursue positive politics. They won because people did not want the BJP in their States.

But the resounding victory of the AAP in Delhi came under the pursuance of positive politics which is a matter to cherish for the largest democracy of the world. The AAP won the election due to the welfare services it performed. Democracies function well when the institutions are corruption-free and they work for the welfare of the people.

This victory of AAP signals that the politics of work obliterated politics of religion and reinforced democracy.

Notes and References

1. Subrata Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy (2011), A History of Political Thought Plato to Marx, PHI Learning Private Limited, New Delhi, pp 170

2. https://eci.gov.in/files/file/10961-17state-wise-seat-won-valid-votes-polled-by-political-parties/, accessed on 11.02.2020

3. http://results.eci.gov.in/DELHITRENDS2020/party wiseresult-U05.htm, accessed on 11.02.2020

4. https://aamaadmiparty.org/nine-measures-arvind-kejriwals-government-has-taken-to-reduce-air-pollution-in-delhi-by-25/, accessed on 11.02.2020

The author is an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bidhan Chandra College, Rishra, (West Bengal) affiliated to the University of Calcutta.

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