When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister eight years ago, he had promised to start a new political culture in the country. He gave the slogan of Congress Mukt Bharat, one of which was interpreted that he wanted to free the country from the political culture of Congress. It was a very pleasing slogan as no one would deny the fact that in the seven decades after independence, all political parties had adopted the work culture of the Congress in some form or the other – even the BJP. That’s when the Sangh-BJP ideologue Govindacharya started calling the BJP the saffron Congress. When Narendra Modi talked about changing politics, it was hoped that the country would be liberated from the political culture of Congress. Along with the political culture of the parties, Prime Minister Modi had also pledged to end the decades-old political evils and also put forward a roadmap for it. On the occasion of completion of three years of his second term, while accounting for his achievements, along with economic, social, strategic and global policies, there should be a discussion on how much politics has changed.
Four things were main in the roadmap that Modi had laid to change the politics of the country. The first thing was to hold all the elections in the country simultaneously because every year elections are affected due to development activities. The second thing was to clean up politics from above. He had said that he would clean up politics not from below, but from above and first of all punish the tainted-accused leaders. The third thing was to make political donations transparent and the fourth thing was to make politics inclusive by freeing it from dynastic-familyism. Needless to say that these four things are necessary to make Indian politics clean. But if we look at the history of eight years, it is known that none of these agendas have been implemented even partially.
First let’s talk about elections. Narendra Modi has spoken of one nation, one election many times. The Election Commission also agrees with his point every time. But in the last eight years, a concrete initiative has been taken by the Election Commission that the commission has decided to prepare a common voter list for every election. Apart from this, no decision or any initiative has been taken so that it seems that in the coming days all the elections will be held simultaneously. Right now, there is no discussion on the hurdles and merits of holding all the elections together. That is a different issue but the fact is that not even the slightest initiative has been taken in this direction. The example of this year is when elections were held in five states in February-March, Himachal Pradesh in November and Gujarat in December. There is a BJP government in both the states of Gujarat and Himachal and if the BJP wanted then the elections of these two states could have been held in February-March along with five states. There was no need to seek approval from the government of any opposition party. This would have been an initiative towards holding simultaneous elections. Similarly, in February next year, there are elections in many states of the Northeast. It is followed by elections in Karnataka in May and elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana at the end of the year. The reality is that in the last eight years, no initiative has been taken to conduct simultaneous elections in as many states as possible, moving state elections back and forth.
Secondly, if the politics has been cleaned from above by punishing the tainted-accused leaders, then there has not been any progress in this matter also. There was an initiative to set up fast track courts to hear cases related to politicians, but that initiative did not materialise. The only leader who can be talked about being punished is Lalu Prasad. But they have also been punished not because of any political initiative, but after more than two decades of hearing. The cases of all the other leaders remain the same. On the contrary, in the last eight years, politics has become more dirty. There has been a huge increase in the number of accused MPs and MLAs in all the states and in all the parties.
BJP is also no exception. The example of Uttar Pradesh will give an idea of the whole country. The results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, which were held on 10 March 2022, have 255 BJP MLAs, out of which 111 have criminal cases registered against them. Analyzing the affidavits of contesting candidates, an organization named Association of Democratic Reforms has said that 95 BJP MLAs have serious criminal cases registered against them. Uttar Pradesh is the only state where 51 per cent of the total elected representatives have criminal cases pending against them. Think, in which direction has the country moved towards cleaning up politics?
The third thing was to make the system of political donations transparent. But in this case it has been completely reversed. The government has completely abolished the transparency of political donations. Now no one is able to know which business house has donated to which party through which trust. It is only known that due to the system of electoral bonds implemented by the Modi government, close to 90 percent of the donations are going to the account of the BJP. True transparency of political donations also ended with this rule. Not only this, after coming to power, the Modi government made a law and gave another big exemption in the matter of donations to political parties. The government passed a law in March 2018 that foreign donations to political parties would not be investigated. Due to this law, foreign donations received by any party after 1976 will not be investigated.
The fourth thing was to free politics from dynasty and familyism. This is the only thing out of the four that the Prime Minister repeats the most. But has politics really been freed from dynasty? The Congress party has definitely weakened, but will it end dynasty politics in politics alone? One-family-effect parties are thriving all over the country and the BJP has synergy with many of them. The BJP itself has become the last refuge of the princes of politics. Yuvraj of any party can join BJP and get important post. So, in this matter also only talks have been held, no concrete steps have been taken.
Overall, the situation is that the flaws which were there earlier are increasing instead of getting eliminated and along with new flaws have come. A new culture of revenge politics is flourishing in the country. There has been a culture of eliminating the opposition by treating it as a known enemy rather than a rival. A new culture of tarnishing the credibility of the leaders by leveling false and true allegations against the leaders of the opposition and propagating those allegations through social media is also being seen. The marginalized culture of throwing mud on the shirts of others to make one’s shirt shine has been brought to the center of politics.