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Dysfunctional Democracy - Unprincipled Politics

Notwithstanding all the bragging that we tend to indulge in while proclaiming ourselves as the world's largest democracy, Indian democracy is in many ways more than one, far from ideal. For all our self-satisfied posturing, democratic institutions in our country remain chronically anemic and our politics are still utterly bereft of any principles and ideologies.

The Third Front is just a rag-tag coalition of opportunistic politicians
Recent developments in the north Indian state of Bihar prove as much. After years of diatribes, bad blood and vitriolic barbs, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan (a regional Dalit leader) allied with the BJP or the Bharatiya Janta Party (which he had labelled a 'dangai' or riot party) led by Narendra Modi. This is a sharp u-turn from the party's earlier stand - calling for an alliance of 'secular' parties against the 'communal' Modi. It happens only in India that a party can swing like a pendulum between two parties (the BJP and the Congress), daggers drawn to each other.

A look into the LJP's past shows that it's leader had actually seceded from one of the BJP's alliance partners on the controversial issues of the 2002 Gujarat riots (which took place under the vigil of Narendra Modi). The recent reunion took place only under opportunistic conditions - the LJP had  been treated disrespectfully by the Congress  and the BJP was hunting for a Dalit face in our caste-based politics. In light of these developments came this stunning deviation from the LJP's earlier position, exemplifying utter disrespect for it's own ideology.

Meanwhile, in another eye-ball grabbing development, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) virtually split down to the middle after 13 of it's 22 Legislative Assembly members declared revolt. But in a dazzling show of solidarity with the leader, 9 of them returned within a few hours! 

Even on the national level, both our principal parties have no inhibitions in shedding their ideology for short-term and ill-conceived political gains. For example, while the BJP keeps criticizing the socialist welfare schemes of the UPA Government, these schemes have seen unanimous passage in Parliament. When in 1991, the Congress set about to reform the economy, an organization(the Swadeshi Jagran Manch) affiliated to the BJP was the most prominent protester. When the same Govt. passes crucial reforms, including the politically-sensitive decision of allowing Foreign Direct Investment in retail, the party bulldozes it.

FDI in Retail saw an entire Parliamentary session washed out
The story of this FDI in retail is an old one. When the BJP was in power, it had made provisions for it's passage but the Congress forced it to drop the idea. A decade later, a Congress Government saw it through..This manifests the hypocrisy of the party. Besides, on the issue of liberalization and globalization, the party has been playing a double game. While paying lip service to the cause, it has actually been kow-towing to populist tendencies.

Politics in India need to be on ideological considerations, not on opportunistic criteria and alliances constituted on shared ideals. If we intend to evolve into a truly democratic polity, we must throw out such hypocritical elements from politics.

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