On grand display is the “Macabre Dance or Twists of Democracy” in the Telangana State Assembly Elections to be held on December 7, 2018. Perhaps, the election scenarios even in other State Assembly elections may not be far different from Telangana, may be more outlandish
What was expected to be cake walkover for K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR), caretaker Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) Supremo, to return to power with a thumping majority is turning out to be a neck-to-neck race? Be whatever may be the outcomes, the loser will be ‘Democracy”. Let none suffer from illusions on the above score.
Let me briefly review the vicious games played by various actors actively participating and colluding in the "Macabre Dance of Democracy". For example, erstwhile sworn rivals with divergent ideologies – Congress Party and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – have forged the “Mahakutami or Grand Alliance” in collusion with Telangana Jana Samiti and the Leftists.
Next, the “Aye Rams, Gaye Rams” are changing party affiliations on being denied party tickets or standing as ‘rebel’ candidates. On being assured of ‘plum’ posts, they are returning to their party folds all over again. Such is the ‘flip-flops” of people masquerading as leaders. Audios have made rounds revealing the “cash for tickets’ in the Congress Party. Also, “notes for votes” will be real.
Let me briefly review the vicious games played by various actors actively participating and colluding in the "Macabre Dance of Democracy". For example, erstwhile sworn rivals with divergent ideologies – Congress Party and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – have forged the "Mahakutami or Grand Alliance in collusion with Telangana Jana Samiti and the Leftists
If the speculative news in circulation is believed, the TDP Supremo, N. Chandrababu Naidu (NCN), the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, has given Rs. 500 crores to cash-strapped local Congress Party to defeat the KCR led TRS.
On the other hand, as per “Rebel Congress Party Reddy” candidate, NCN-KCR duo’s hidden agenda (Kamma NCN- the Velama KCR) is to marginally the “Reddy” stranglehold in Telangana politics. At the same time, rumours are also afloat that Modi-led BJP has fielded candidates in almost all the constituencies based on the secret understanding reached with KCR to prevent Hindu votes from going to the “Mahakutami” candidates.
Ipso facto, neither the women have been given 33 1/3 share of tickets by any political party, nor have they done justice to the OBC castes. Naturally, the OBC group constituting over 50% of the population is sulking for being denied their proportionate share of tickets. Not to be overlooked is the BSP foray into the electoral battlefield. And, the fledgeling Pawan Kalyan’s-Jana Sena too has expressed its intent to play its role in the electoral outcomes.
The Congress Party campaigning focus is to demolish the “iron-strong hold of KCRs family dynasty” and its authoritarian, dictatorial governance. In retrospect, “dynastic politics” have replaced “real democracy” everywhere.
A brief survey of the list of candidates in all political parties reflects such affliction what with Telangana being no exception.
The erosion or backsliding of democracy is not a new phenomenon, but in play since attaining independence. At the national level, Nehru-Ghandy dynasty even today maintains its stranglehold. In the early decades of 1950 and 1960, the feudal lords were most active with ‘booth capturing and rigging’ in play. Subsequently, democracy was hijacked by criminals with “muscle and money” power.
Today, it is common refrain even amongst the illiterate that all political parties and candidates are giving Rs.300/- to Rs.700/- for each attending their meetings and rallies along with free transport and Biriyani/meals in Telangana. Rallies, organised at a great cost, virtually brings traffic to a halt.
What does it all imply? The expenditures in democracy deny a fair opportunity to a common man for contesting in elections. Thus, democracy is a rich man’s game. Being a “rich man’s game, it favours the “dynasties” at all levels – National, State and Local levels in include Panchayat. Ironic but true, only the ‘richest’ and the ‘fittest’ can survive in the Jungle of democracy. With “dynastocracy” active, what will be its way forward? The simple answer is authoritarianism.
As per political experts, “authoritarianism is not simply the absence of democracy but its political beast—really a menagerie of very different beasts—with multiple modus operandi.” For this reason, it is safe to say reaffirm emphatically that democracy is under serious threat but that the threat is not a singular one as can be discerned from the preceding vicious politics on grand display. And, the blame squarely rests on the shoulders of the political leadership for their policies of “Divide and Rule”. Consequently, the Great Indian Society” stands virtually divided on caste, communal and caste lines.
The social chemistry is, therefore, rapidly undergoing decadence - cultural, moral, and spiritual degeneration and disorder. One may term it as civilisation decay in Indian political discourse. Ipso facto, political parties without exception have been perpetuating simultaneous class, caste and communal wars. All alike are accusing each other of spreading inter and intra-ethnoreligious hatred and corruption. If the Congress Party accuses the right-wing BJP of waging religious war, the BJP accuses the Congress Party of practising “Appeasement Minority vote bank politics”. Today, it is the multicultural nihilistic hedonism fury unleashed by political rivals is the real threat to any pretence of democracy.
Furthermore, media explosion is encouraging, consolidating and advancing politics of “divide and rule”. With partisan media to the fore depending on the political and corporate patronage, unbiased coverage of news is an anathema. Today, disinformation and hoaxes that are popularly referred to as “fake news” are accelerating and affecting the way individuals interpret daily developments. Driven by foreign actors, citizen journalism, and the proliferation of talk radio and cable news, many information systems have become more polarised and contentious, and there has been a precipitous decline in public trust in traditional journalism.
Add to them; new digital platforms have unleashed innovative journalistic practices that enable novel forms of communication and greater global reach than at any point in human history. Fake news and sophisticated disinformation campaigns are especially problematic in democratic systems. It is a forlorn hope to expect the news industry to provide high-quality journalism to build public trust and correct fake news and disinformation without legitimising them. Finally, individuals should follow a diversity of news sources, and be sceptical of what they read and watch.
In sum, democracy is in constant crisis or peril since the mid-1960s. Ipso facto, the slow poisoning of democracy has been taking place over the past six decades inexorably in the name of consolidating and advancing democracy. In seeking to explain such troubling trends, most observers focus on the challenges currently facing democracy, which patently reflects intellectual bankruptcy or hypocrisy.