A nation of over 1.23 billion citizens is gearing up for its 16th General election in 2014. Now that the nation is being given a choice with the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), it remains to be seen how long it takes for the new anti-corruption wave to become a strong force.
India's 16th general election in 2014 is shaping up to be a critical juncture in the evolution of the nation's politics. The story that needs to be told is that of the decline of the single largest democracies of the world. But the decline of Indian democracy actually started since 1952, with Indian National Congress (INC) taking power.
It is indeed the voters' choice that that defines the future, but what are really the choices before this nation. It is felt that the blame, of the rise of dynastic politics, should squarely fall on one political party alone and that is the INC.
But the decline of Indian democracy also is marked by the decline of the presence of a strong political party in the country. For as long as 25 years, the INC was the dominant party nationwide, with a three quarters majority in the Lok Sabha. BJP was a much smaller party then.
Then came the 9th Lok Sabha elections in November 1989, which was a watershed for Indian politics and signalled the 'permanent eclipse' of the INC' s hegemony and the meteoric rise of the BJP.
Yet by the mid-1990s, the BJP's advance had stalled. And in all these years, while the regional parties have grown and gained popularity, none have made a significant influence at the Centre.
The rise to power of Narendra Modi has been one that followed many deaths. In 2001, he was the replacement to Keshubhai Patel, the former chief minister of Gujarat, who was forced to step down after the January earthquake that killed around 20,000 people.
An incident such as the 2002 Godhra riots would have been enough to overthrow many political stalwarts. In 2012, one of Modi's former ministers, Maya Kodnani, was sentenced to 28 years in jail alongside 30 others for their involvement in the 2002 violence. But Modi has remained in power. The fervour of the 2014 General elections has much to owe to 'this man.'
Congress scion Rahul Gandhi on the other hand only has his dynastic allegiance that has been handed down to him and nothing else to show as an achievement.
The 2014 elections was being perceived only as a fight between Congress and BJP. This myth is now slowly disintegrating.
The hope for the people lies in strengthening local and regional leadership. There is now an urgent necessity for regional leaders to think beyond their states. Even in an era in which states are increasingly becoming autonomous, key issues including structural economic reforms and matters pertaining to foreign affairs need to be discussed and policies formulated at the national level, as in mature federal democracies.
And that's where the salvation of Indian masses lie and it is in this context that the common man's party needs to be seen as a force to be reckoned with. Decimating Congress and giving the second dominant party of the country - BJP, a close chase in Delhi, the AAP has given hope to democracy.
The AAP effect on Delhi will have an impact across the country. It may not yet be a national party, but its effect on the 'thinking' of the masses will dearly cost the national parties such as Congress and BJP. And in times when a wafer-thin majority can make all the difference, it will be the Lilliputian such as AAP that will give hope to democracy.
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