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How political party-based governance is violating democratic rule in India

By Harasankar Adhikari 

The gestures and posture of the government of democratic India remind us of the warnings of Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish historian, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage."
Thus, Lord Tytler, identified "eight stages of democracy," as mentioned above, as the life cycle of democracy. Del Dickson (2014) critically explores the life cycle of democracies. He opined that the People's Government is premised on the idea that democracy is based on two fundamental rights: freedom and liberty. He discusses ‘five dimensions to define and distinguish democratic societies: rights, participation and representation, inclusion, equality, and power. Liberal democracies emphasize individualism, negative rights, representative government, inclusive citizenship, equal opportunity, and limited government. Free democracies stress community, positive rights, direct participation, exclusive citizenship, equal outcomes, and robust government.' Then, is Indian democracy liberal or free democracy? In fact, in India, the right to vote has become the most important. So, people in India live theoretically (particularly during election time) in a democratic country. It reflects truly that Indians (voters) have any control over government employees, government funds, or government policies. Is it only a democracy of elections to elections? Indian democracy is determined by the relationship between elections and electorates. ‘After winning an election, the parties become brazen and arrogant. They participate in the formation of a government. Is this democracy? Just vote once every five years and then plead your case before the same people who you elected to power? Or plead before the officials who take the salary out of your taxes? The government works according to its political will. Is it a people's government?
But this political party-based government violates its own democratic rule. We see that it ignores its responsibilities toward people. It usually forgets its democratic nature. It makes people reliant on political parties rather than independent popular governments.
Abraham Lincoln viewed "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." But ‘democracy has become such a sacrosanct concept that evens the harshest dictatorships’, while it is a living system of government. Here, ‘politicians believe that voters cannot be trusted with the truth, and democracy is seriously at risk.’ Respect for the people is essential to a government. In recent times, the BJP-led government of India has taken no initiative to control price hikes while trying to reach its revenue collection target. The economic recession of the country is being suppressed by the government, which deliberately presents wrong information and makes false promises about it.
In India, it has been observed that the political accountability of the government is confined to the particular political parties that ruled the government. Members of specific political parties have no say in opposing anti-people programs. They are committed to supporting their parties even when the party takes anti-people’s acts. They must publicize and campaign for it among the general public. Opponents usually get fewer privileges, and opponents always raise their voice against the government, and it is their policy to revive for establishing another people's government, while the same things repeat. It is a democratic misfortune. No party does its rightful duty towards the nation and its people. That is why, after more than seven decades of independence, the majority's suffering has increased due to a lack of political accountability in the people's government.
Further, the social accountability of the people's government gets less priority. Here, political party workers play a major role, and the common masses have no participation because they don't feel important; rather, if they share an opinion against any work, they have to face unnecessary harassment. Therefore, various programmes from construction and repair of roads, drainage and other local level public works are mostly draining public revenues compared to the quantity and quality of the works for which budget allocation is made. If people's government fails to strengthen public monitoring or social accountability, may it be considered a function of the democratic government?
At last, it could be seen that Indian democracy ‘must die’ and that Tytler's prediction would come true in the very near future.



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