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Democracy lessons of 2024

Democracy lessons of 2024

It can be said that the Indian people won the 18th Lok Sabha elections and the exit polls lost. There was no sign of a well-knit and determined opposition to end the ten-year-long dictatorial regime that used democratic systems as a tool. The voters may be credited with thinking and acting head of them. For, in a way the people were able to put the Modi regime in its place. Even when the NDA led by Modi comes to power again, it will never be a reincarnation of the outgoing Modi government, as the people's verdict declared. The Modi regime has tired the people of India due to factors more than one. The BJP, which is the largest single party with 240 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, has to rely on its allies Janata Dal-U and Telugu Desam Party for an absolute majority. Hence, that party may be forced to put aside the Modi-centric slogans and governance practices seen until now. This is the first takeaway from this general election.

Never before has there been such a personalized campaign as the one seen this time. And the one who has uttered the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on each campaign day must have been Modi himself. This rhetoric was a continuation of the one-man centred philosophy that echoed every part of his administration. At the inauguration of the new Parliament building and during the purely religious ceremony of the Ram Temple consecration, Modi seemed in a hurry to take centre stage instead of the President and the priests, respectively. The excess of praise for Modi and the disappearance of critics were natural corollary of this one-man show.

It can be assumed that the coalition system, with decisive power for the constituent parties and the absence of a brute majority, will prevent authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies to some extent. The most important lesson from this election is that the tactic of winning by stirring up emotional issues does not always work. At one stage of the campaign, the Modi-Amit Shah alliance appeared unusually uneasy and nervous whereupon sectarian and divisive hate speeches became routine, focusing only on themes that stirred up communal sentiments without any clear purpose. Even in Uttar Pradesh, where such tactics were most visibly employed, they failed to resonate with the people. Finally, out of the total 80 seats of the state, the Samajwadi Party won 37 seats while the BJP managed to secure only 33 seats. And this was in UP where the construction of the Ram Temple was incessantly highlighted to keep animosity towards Muslims burning. Notably, the BJP lost in Ayodhya, the constituency where the Ram Temple was built on the Babri Masjid land.

The Modi-Amit Shah duo were seeking 400 seats in Parliament to implement some of the unfinished items of their main agenda. However, such programs primarily targeted and marginalized the Muslim minority and the same can be said about the agenda that were implemented earlier. However, the polls indicated that voters were teaching the BJP a lesson that the country's governance is not about marginalizing a section of population targeting a particular group. What the people had to highlight and demand solutions for, were the problems of their daily lives. This realization was reflected in the election results, showing that they believed the BJP was not competent to address these issues.

The opposition too has a lot to learn from this election. Firstly, they appeared to be not fully seized of the need to come and struggle together against the fascist forces. They were divided due to petty disputes and quarrels over trivial reasons. In Uttar Pradesh, where a different approach was adopted, the Congress-Samajwadi alliance yielded better results. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress, allied with INDIA bloc, had to contest against the Congress, which was in alliance with the Left parties. As a result, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Lok Sabha leader of the Congress, was defeated by Yusuf Pathan, a former cricketer on TMC ticket in the Bahrampur constituency, which Chowdhury had won five times. Although Chouwdhury's defeat did not reduce the number of parliamentary seats, the inherent disunity probably resulted in the loss of other seats as well. The TMC won seats in the southern part of West Bengal, a state with a 30 per cent Muslim population, but in the northern part where the votes got divided, it helped the BJP win seats. Another notable phenomenon in this election is the downfall of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Whether or not BSP's reputation as the B team of the BJP is true, the current standing of the party that was once the epitome of Dalit awakening should be a matter of study for political science students. Not only did the BSP not win any seats, but its vote share too went lower than that of regional parties, at 2.08 per cent. All said and done, the cardinal lesson of the election of 2024 is the need for secular forces to unite and fight as one against the divisive and polarizing moves of the Hindutva movement as a whole, and that if this unity becomes a reality, it will produce results too.

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TAGS:BJPNDAINDIA blocLok Sabha Elections 2024
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