There is no real danger of India going back on democracy. This has been talked of after recent victory of BJP in the poll held in which BJP won a majority in the Lok Sabha and thus got a mandate to govern India for another five years. The fear was expressed that there may be attack on institutions like judiciary, media, Election Commission and others which may make it difficult for democracy to survive in its present form.
In addition it was also noticed that opposition parties have suffered major setbacks in the current poll and will not be able to provide necessary checks and balances required in a democracy. The Congress party, main opposition party has failed to win ten per cent of seats in Lok Sabha to be officially recongnised as opposition. Some BJP leaders also indulged in loose talk by talking about there being no need for holding poll every five years to elect a Government after 2023.
Subsequent events have shown that it is difficult for any single leader or a political party to govern a large and a diverse country like India The first test was posed by language policy under which it was suggested to follow a three language formula and make learning of Hindi compulsory. This had to be withdrawn or its implementation suspended on the plea that it was only a proposal yet to be finalised. This followed strong protest in South including by some of the BJP allies.
At the same time Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made some attempts at making peace with minorities that attempts should be made to remove their fears which have been created in their minds by opposition parties. He also said that he would like to work with all people including opponents to take the nation ahead. The BJP leadership also asked its state units not to make any attempts to bring down the Governments in States where opposition parties were in power.
It has to be kept in mind that at present Congress Party is in power in Punjab, Rajasthan , Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh and in coalition In Karnataka. The regional parties are also in power in West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra and Telangana. There is no prospect of BJP coming into power in Tamilnadu in near future. As such major part of the country is being ruled by Non- BJP parties if not by parties opposed to them. They have all faced might of BJP in polls.
To put in plain words India is too large, diverse a country where unity is possible in diversity and not by imposing a single party rule or dictatorship. The diversity of India and its size is the biggest safeguard for democracy. While many countries in Asia and Africa who became free around fifties came under rule of army or single party rule India remained a democracy and held polls every five years and witnessed peaceful transfer of power.
The size of minorities is so large in India that they can not be ignored nor suppressed. The present situation in which their representation in public institutions has been drastically cut at best can be only temporary. Emotional slogans can lead to domination by majority community, but same can not continue forever. I also feel that attempts to do away with Article 370 or 35 A which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir can not be done away easily. As there are many legal hurdles to be crossed before it can be done.
It has to be kept in mind any that attempt to impose or bring about unitary form of Government in India has never worked. Mougal emperor Aurangzeb failed, British never attempted it. They allowed hundreds of states to be ruled by locals and same is not likely to work in future. Congress Party with history of having led freedom movement ruled India for nearly seventy years, but is gasping for breath now. Same holds good for others.
No single individual, or party can take India forward. It has to be united effort in which all parties will have to contribute and share its fruits. It is too early to give a verdict on Modi Government in second term as they are at starting point and face serious challenges in days to come. There are many promises to be fulfilled. As such talk of going back on democracy can be put in the cold storage for some time.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)