Swaraj, as explained by Gandhiji, meant “self rule”. According to him, “Power resides in the people; they can use it at anytime. In such a state (of affairs), everyone is their own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbour.”
Gandhiji himself wanted to dissolve Congress after Independence. The logic was Congress was a movement and not a political party. Combine this and his meaning of Swaraj, and “Representative Democracy” becomes a bad idea. And since 1951, India has been following such a flawed democracy. Indian voter sprints to the front every five years and then suddenly goes into oblivion. All his powers are taken away instantly.
Whenever we try to regain power during these five years, our representatives throw the “Constitution” in our face. Indian Constitution, another archaic body which was almost blindly copied from British Empire. Believe it or not, some 300 Indians actually took credit for the plagiarism.
More than 60 years have passed and the law book has hardly changed. After all, no government will change the system which has put it into power. But the Indian voter is resistant. He fights back through democratic means. He has been continuously evolving the politics of India through its voting patterns. Not for a second think the Politician has outsmarted the voter. The reply from the Indian citizen might have been slow, but it has been always there. It evolves to keep Politicians in check.
Indian citizens initially tried the secular single party rule. This first dimension of Indian Politics worked for years until the Congress became too casual towards democracy. JP Movement brought citizens to street and displaced Congress momentarily. Hence emerged the Second dimension of Indian Politics. But it was short-lived. The mourning of Indira Gandhi’s death vaporised it all. After all, we are nation of emotions.
Still the lesson was learnt- it’s difficult to dethrone an established rule through street protests. Prolonged strikes could hamper the development of the nation and small bursts didn’t have much effect. Hence, we returned back to our weapon of choice, voting. The chair under the Congress was being eaten, village by village. And the means were regional parties.
Era of Regional Politics became the third dimension. People from different states knew if they want their concerns addressed, it could only happen through regional parties. But they couldn’t predict two major consequences of this method. Firstly, regional parties led to Coalition Politics and big egos couldn’t lead stable governments. And the second result was a scary one – a Disunited India.
People started asking for separate states, separate laws and separate nations. From basis of castes to religion to language, everything was being used by Regional Parties. Every election was voted on local issues rather than national ones. Wins of Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh, N.T. Rama Rao etc. were clear indications of changed habits. The state of oneness of India was getting diminished. But again we woke up. We started voting differently and gave the fourth dimension.
General Elections of 2004 were a drastic change. Secularism and Socialism was back with a bang. Congress and Communists were leading the government. But during 2009 General came the most surprising result, Congress won more seats in U.P than Mayawati’s BSP. The State Elections will now be voted on Local Issues and General Elections on national issues.
This gave us one more advantage – stable governments, both at State and Centre. Government now could function more efficiently and bring the real change. Instead, it led to a very weak opposition and made the parties in power too casual, once again. Corruption came and conquered the nation. Voters were highly disappointed. But some of them again rose to occasion. They became the “Civil Society” of India, led by Anna Hazare.
Fifth and the most interesting dimension of Indian democracy came to light. The Civil Society movement used two pronged approaches. First, they scared the political parties through mass protests on streets. Once, they were able to get enough attention & support, they became silent. Political parties were breathing easy and unexpectedly came the revolutionary idea – Political Rally without a Political Party.
When Arvind Kejriwal advised the Congress candidate for Hisar by-elections, “Join us while its time, you might actually become a hero here.” the motive was clear. Indian voter is going to bring the Swaraj back. We are not going to wait for 5 years to exercise our powers.
Political parties haven’t got monopoly on Election Rallys. Now Indian citizens will rally, against the politicians we don’t want. We will hit back at the political class whenever possible. If the election is not in our constituencies, we will go and rally where there is an election. We might end up promoting an Independent but legitimate candidate, but we won’t be politically affiliated.
We don’t want to fight elections; we don’t need to fight elections. But that doesn’t mean we will leave the political class to slug it out between them. From now onwards, we won’t take a side but we won’t stay back and see the fake democracy. Politicians should be scared, very scared. In the words of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
“However, the earth shakes, storm surge,
When people raise their brows of late,
Turning Point, time to listen to the voice of the chariot rider,
Empty the throne of power, here comes the citizenry.”