The results of the Indian elections 2014 have created history. It fetched a landslide victory for Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). But more than that, it added two more feathers to India’s well-established democracy. One, it strengthened our democracy more than it did BJP, which is not much noticed by our voters. Two, it converted our democracy into a two-party-system from single-party-system in practice; even though theoretically, according to the Constitution, India still has a multi party system. Still, this peculiarity is invisible, under the cover of magnetic flux of charismatic Modi.
Difference between Theory and Reality
Indian representative democracy is based on a multi-party-system in theory. This looks good on paper but not in reality. There are four types of contesters in any elections: national party, regional party, registered party and independent. In national elections the effective players are national parties as compared to the three others. To be a national party, a political party is required to secure at least six per cent of the total votes polled in any four or more sates and win four seats from any state or states in the Lok Sabha. Another criteria to be recognised as a national party is securing a minimum of two per cent seats (11) of total (543) Lok Sabha seats. These eleven members should be from at least three different states. With these criteria parties like BSP, CPI(M), having influence in a few states, are national party.
Like many national parties, BSP has a strong hold in UP. It could not taste power anywhere except UP. But it still enjoyed national party stature. Technically it fulfils the criteria. Theoretically, it appears appealing. But practically, it does not discharge the duties of a national party in true sense like putting candidates across the country to make elections tougher and better. Similar is the case with other national parties.
Congress: Single Party Rule in a Multi Party System
Since independence, our country has had a single-party-system in practice till 2014. Congress was the single party which put candidates in most of the states across the country. For the first time, BJP behaved like Congress in putting candidates. AAP tried without the national tag but failed miserably. None other put candidates on national scale in true spirit of a national party.
In Indian election, as mentioned above, all four types, of candidates test their genuineness to be selected as an MP. It would be better and good for democratic health, if in a national election, most of the players be from national parties rather than regional and independents. In reality, generally independents dominate the list of candidates. National party candidates are few in number. And most of them are from name-sake-national parties. Such parties qualify technically and theoretically, but don’t exist across the country and have influence only in few states. Ideal situation is that in a national election maximum candidates be from national parties- excluding name-sake- national parties. But ground reality is opposite. Hence, the contest in election is skewed and not as healthy as expected. In such a situation, we are not electing our representatives as our constitution dreamed and desired. In the national elections to the parliament, a national player is fighting either with a name-sake-national player, regional players or independents. In national game, though, national players should be in majority and it should be amongst them.
There are many name-sake-national parties. And they put candidates in a few selected states of their influence. It is Congress only, which contests in the entire country barring a few seats. To put up a tough competition to Congress, BJP for the first time contested on a national scale to become a true national party in practice rather than in theory. It won the majority also. And hence, 2014 elections made our multi- party-system in theory into a two-party system in reality. BJP gave tough fight to Congress and decimated it. Congress could not get sufficient MPs to even become the recognised opposition party as per our constitutional norm in the Lok Sabha. In earlier elections, the giant Congress contested with name-sake-national, weak regional and independents. As a result, it ruled India for most of the time. It was possible because b not get tough competition from real national players- as they were on paper and not on the ground.
Modi’s Triple Role
Modi played a triple role in 2014 election. Hence, he is three-in-one. But, we are crediting Modi with only 33% of the ground effort for bringing a landslide victory to BJP. The rest two more strong achievements are neither in discussion nor visible. First, Modi championed in making BJP true national party in reality and providing a majority to it. Second, he strengthened democracy by putting our election to tough and sound competition on a national scale. And third, he helped in making a two-party system from a stagnant single-party system.
Modi created history in 2014 elections. But the fact is otherwise. Only one of his three achievements is in discussion. Rest two, we are not noticing- his national services for the party-system and democracy strengthening. These two great historic accomplishments are still not in the limelight.
By Heera Lal