Recent State Elections in India showed a bitter harsh reality for majority of the residents of those states.
Democracy loses when the political parties campaign to just capture or retain power. In their zeal to capture power they go to any extent outside the moral compass eventually losing focus on what exactly seems better for that state. Democracy loses when it loses the focus on providing better local governance for its residents.
If the country is not strong, the state will also not be strong. In the case of India, it is exactly as such. The States of India are given important responsibility to protect health and provide security to their residents. During COVID-19 pandemic the local state governments barring a few did lose focus on their responsibility to provide security & healthcare to their residents. In India the concept of Majority is vastly different from the west. In the west, the majority & minority are decided based on the race, while in India it is decided based on religion. This presents a unique challenge in India because the Abrahamic religion is designed around building communities of faith, whereas the Hindu faith considers the whole world as a family. Hindu faith is not communal by design. But when it comes to elections, all the Abrahamic faith followers vote as per the direction of their local community leaders. Naturally, Hindus are going to lose because they vote for candidates for the well-being of the entire community irrespective of faith. The recent elections in West Bengal is a case in point. Indian lawmakers would have to think of ways to ban religion based political campaigns.
Mamata Banerjee was the incumbent Chief Minister, who engaged in all types of theatrics during the election cycle. She ran the election on defeating the opposition instead of promoting positive values and public policies.
This is not good for democracy because it automatically assumes that every single political leader will actually carry out the will of the people. In the case of recent elections in West Bengal, the violence against the opposition workers and candidates scared the people of retribution post elections. Also, COVID-19 pandemic played an important role in scaring the people to go out and vote. The security of poll-booths were maintained by Central forces and therefore, no booth capture happened which used to be normal in earlier elections in this state. But this time, many people were dissuaded by the incumbent’s party to even go to the booths. Despite the opposition running a creative campaign which had mass acceptance by the masses of West Bengal as shown in the election rallies across the state, the poll outcomes were still favorable to the incumbent.
West Bengal has a history of intimidation being used in elections since the time of communists who ruled that state for almost thirty years. TMC used the same strategies to defeat them in elections.
The post poll violence has been unprecedented. Thousands of shops owned by mostly Hindus are burnt & looted by TMC members whose majority of candidates have been muslims. This is the religious targeting of Hindus in West Bengal. The violence is unprecedented so much so that the Chief Minister Elect, Mamata Banerjee had to appeal for peace to her own cadres who have wreaked havoc on supporters of BJP in her own state. Human rights of Hindus are practically not protected under this new government even before they are sworn in. If anyone studies the candidate list and campaigns of TMC candidates, one will be shocked to see that the entire election was fought on religious grounds by individual candidates. It was as if the election was not for better governance but rather a conquest of Hindu Bengal. The religious polarization created by TMC against BJP supporters is unprecedented. As of writing this report more than seven hundred supporters have been physically hurt by the hateful campaigns of the winning party led by Mamata Banerjee.
India has to reform the election laws and also provide better security to its citizens from politically motivated violence. Since law & order is a state subject in India, the current Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is squarely to be blamed for violence against any resident of West Bengal. I wish & hope peace resumes in Bengal and all those who perpetrated violence against anyone are brought to book. I hope the US State department takes notice.