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Democratic rule? In India, ruling party is trying to cease the existence of opposition

By Harasankar Adhikari 

The term "democracy" is derived from two Greek words: "demos ‘(or people) and ‘kratos’ (rule). So, in simple terms, democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. ‘It is a system of governance where power and civic responsibility are, ideally, exercised directly by all citizens.' But unfortunately, the practice tells a different story because the "people" typically exercise their power indirectly through elected representatives. There, modern democracy "is a system of governance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of the elected representatives." The key characteristic of democracy is ‘the responsiveness of government to the preferences of its citizens," (who are, in theory, "political equals" of the rulers). In this responsiveness, ‘citizens have opportunities to formulate their preferences, articulate them, and have them considered in the conduct of the business of government.’ According to the democratic theory, ‘political parties are voluntary organizations that are supposed to promote democracy. Whereas the judiciary, the legislature, and the judiciary promote horizontal accountability, vertical accountability is promoted by the political parties, which link the people and the government. Parties organize campaigns, recruit candidates, and mobilize the political community to participate in the selection of office bearers. The goal of party activism is to 'create institutions and shape public policies, laws, and policies that affect the rights and welfare of the political community.'
In multi-party politics like India, ‘the party that is elected to form government seeks to enact into law a number of policies and programs (oftentimes consistent with their election manifesto). Opposition parties are free to criticize the ruling party’s policies, ideas, and programs and offer alternatives.’
The opposition is a central pillar to any democracy. ‘It means that, regardless of their differences, all sides in the political debate share the fundamental democratic values of free speech, the rule of law, and equal protection under the law; parties that lose elections become the opposition. The opposition, then, is essentially a "government-in-waiting." For a culture of democracy to take hold, opposition parties need to have confidence that the political system will guarantee their right to organize, speak, dissent, and/or criticize the party in power. Opposition parties also need to be assured that, in due course, they will have a chance to campaign and re-seek the people's mandate in and through regular, free, and fair elections.’
Therefore, opposition parties obviously perform the following important functions:
  • Political parties in democracies are ‘important organs for aggregating the interests of the political community. Interest aggregation often culminates in the articulation or projection of certain preferences, values, and ideologies into the policy and lawmaking processes (e.g., in Parliament) and in the budgeting process.’
  • It promotes "national conversation" and creates an environment of democratic discussion at a higher level of political development and maturity.
  • Maintaining a liaison with the voter-citizen and demonstrating the relevance of politics to ordinary people, that is, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised.
  • "Opposition parties hold the government to account for its commissions or omissions."
  • Opposition parties present ‘a viable alternative to the incumbent government by designing alternative ideas, principles, and policies for governing society. Should the party in power let the voters down, the "government-in-waiting" takes over the reigns of power through free and fair elections.’
  • ‘Parties strengthen the culture of democracy within the party and the political community in general (by, for example, promoting open debate during delegates’ conferences, promoting intra-party democratic elections, and ensuring accountable use of party finances).’
  • Parties work with the Electoral Commission, the mass media, and civil society organizations to monitor and improve the quality of voter registration, civic education, and electoral transparency.
  • Parties serve as breeding grounds for future leaders. Shadow cabinet ministers, for example, typically conduct serious party business in their designated portfolios.
  • Finally, opposition parties are the unpaid but dedicated principal researchers for the government in power.
But in India, the ruling party is trying to cease the existence of the opposition, and its target is to make opposition zero. That means the ruling government does not prefer the important pillar of democracy (opposition). It is a cultural orientation of political anarchism toward political monarchism. It has been observed that the opposition does not get priority in playing the role of the opponent. Opposition is almost always ignored. Specially, the government does not listen to the criticism of the opposition relating to different policies, programs, or even the budget. Further, polls at different hierarchies remind us of this culture.
We find that in India, free and fair elections are a daydream. But fear during the election is the most common feature. The scientific rigging, booth jams, violence and threats, and hooliganism are fear centric events of the election. The dominant majority varied according to the particular dominant groups of the particular geographical territory, which controls all these election events deliberately.
From the lower house to the upper house, the opponents are ignored because the majority thinks, they are doing dirty politics. There is, in fact, a culture of favoritism. No one likes to leave the field. The common mass of elected opponents is deprived of development activities. For instance, at Panchayat level, the majority (ruling the Panchayat) does not allot funds for the development of the villages of the elected opponents.
So, how would democracy work if there was no opposition? Who would monitor the functions of the government, and who would rectify these functions? What would be the fate of common electorates in this type of democracy? Therefore, the democracy would be renamed "Zero Democracy'. Indian democracy would turn into a political monarchy.

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