The Many Accomplices in the Attempt to Murder Democracy in India

The Many Accomplices in the Attempt to Murder Democracy in India
The Many Accomplices in the Attempt to Murder Democracy in India

“How long does Indian democracy have?” This was the title of an op-ed article published in an English daily. They know that democracy is dying in India. The government is pressing its boots on its neck. It is gasping for breath. All the organs of the state are involved: administration, police, Enforcement Directorate, central investigative agencies, income tax authorities and to a large extent the judiciary. India’s big media is clapping and laughing at this scene of the murder of democracy. The public is numb and confused.

How much time is left for democracy? But who wants democracy to live? Bureaucracy? Half? Judiciary? Corporate world? Ordinary people? Who is interested in democracy?

Arvind Kejriwal, the sitting chief minister of Delhi, is in jail. His deputy chief minister and two other ministers were already in jail. One of the senior leaders of his party is in jail. Hemant Soren, former chief minister of Jharkhand, was jailed two months back. From the remaining opposition leaders, anyone can be arrested on any pretext and at any time.

The Women’s Commission, Election Commission, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, all institutions of the Union government are hell-bent on punishing Supriya Shrinate, a leading spokesperson of the Congress, if possible by jailing her, after an indecent comment was made on her social media account. All this despite her de ella saying that that comment was made by someone else misusing her de ella account, apologizing for it and repeatedly dissociating herself from it.

Notice for outstanding tax of Rs 11 crore has been sent to the Communist Party of India. The Income Tax Department has sent not one or two but 15 notices to the Trinamool Congress. The Congress party has been sent a notice for outstanding tax of Rs 1,800 crore. Before that, all its bank accounts have been sealed because the Income Tax Department wants to recover its dues from it. Not only this, without informing the party, it forced the banks to transfer money from the Congress accounts to the Income Tax Department’s account. This is against the rules of natural justice. Tell me how any government departments can withdraw money from my account. Can it be allowed? But for the big media this is not a question to be raised. Rather, there is an attempt to justify whatever is happening.

The media is not interested in asking whether the Bharatiya Janata Party owes anything to the Income Tax Department or not.

It seems that the Income Tax Department woke up just before the elections when all the parties were mobilizing all their resources for election campaigns. It requires money but also the undivided attention of its leaders.

The Congress does not have money to pay salaries to those who work in its offices. No money even for election campaigns. Neither for printing leaflets or posters, nor for railway or plane tickets.

At this very moment, when they have to be in the field canvassing for their parties and candidates, the leaders of the opposition parties are being summoned by different investigative agencies, one after the other. If they are made to appear again and again before the investigative agencies, when would they go to their electorate?

Is all this normal? Should the public keep watching all this silently? Shouldn’t there be a furore in the media? Shouldn’t the Election Commission restrain these agencies? Shouldn’t the courts intervene?

Is the answer to all this that whether it is the Income Tax Department or CBI or ED, all agencies have to keep doing their work? Or will they be asked whether they should stop their work thinking that there are election times? Don’t we ask why at this point in time only the opposition parties and their leaders are being investigated and arrested?

We do not know how those opposition leaders who are either leaving their parties now or are refusing to contest the elections are being blackmailed.

The Supreme Court has struck down the scheme of electoral bonds just before the announcement of elections. The matter was pending before it for five years. But by the time the court declared the scheme illegal, the BJP had accumulated a huge amount of money. Opposition parties cannot compete with the BJP in any way in terms of money. Whatever money they are left with is now being seized by agencies.

Even after this there will be elections. Everyone will be seen as free to contest the elections. But the opposition’s hands and feet have been tied in this race. After that it will be accused of lagging behind, lacking the energy of the BJP.

Also there is the EVM on which many experts have expressed doubts. But the Election Commission is adamant that it will stick to it and not have a universal paper trail.

Elections renew democracy in India. How is democracy expected to survive if the election process itself is corrupted or vitiated? It has been clearly visible for the last 10 years that the media is against the opposition and is an enthusiastic and aggressive campaigner or propagandist of the BJP. So it is naive to expect it to convey the opposition’s message to the public.

One expects that when the ruling party starts becoming autocratic, the rest of the institutions of the state will come together to protect the democratic and constitutional processes. But it seems that all the institutions of the state have merged themselves with the BJP. Old army officers are surprised and worried to see that the army has also started talking in the language of the BJP.

Clean and fair elections are essential for democracy. Until now, Indian governments have not been accused of corrupting the Lok Sabha elections. The ruling party definitely gets some benefits but the opposition gets fair play. Indira Gandhi is said to be the most autocratic ruler. She herself ended the emergency and released all the opposition leaders. Had she been today’s ruler, she would have conducted elections by keeping the opposition leaders in jail. Today the opposition is either in jail or in the offices of agencies.

After doing all this, disabling the opposition, the public is being told that the opposition is no match for the BJP. Noise is being made about the immense popularity of the prime minister. After the implementation of the code of conduct, the prime minister visits Bhutan and receives the state award. He and the BJP are thus campaigning at government expense.

The public should be interested in free and fair elections. The elites have failed their country because they have no stake in democracy. It is the people who need democracy. But a large part of them either do not realize their seriousness or have no idea how the BJP is using all tricks to capture the elections.

The corporations can trade off democracy for profit. The other elites can preserve their material privileges. They are not mute witnesses to the murder of democracy in India; they are active, passionate accomplices in it.

Apoorvanand teaches at Delhi University.

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