The extreme personality cult in Indian democracy
Person-centred elections are dangerous for democracy.
Vikas Parasram Meshram | It is natural for the common people to wonder when the Prime Minister gets time to work because the Prime Minister has to sit in the office and dispose of the files. It takes time. But since last year, he has been busy with election campaigning. Voting has already been held in Himachal Pradesh, now voting will be held in Gujarat. Elections will be held in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and other states next year. And with the way top leadership presence in the election campaigns is becoming an essential requirement of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it is natural to ask, how much longer will the Prime Minister continue to fight in the states?
There is no doubt that despite national-level problems like inflation, unemployment, etc. our politicians have been successful in attracting voters by raising emotional issues which are often of low priority. It has become very common for the Prime Minister to be so busy with state elections that he has played the role of the party's star campaigner for the past few decades and without him it is becoming difficult to hold elections for the ruling party.
The position of Prime Ministers of previous governments was not much different – particularly Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi - who also remained the mantra of electoral victory for their parties. Such dependence of any political party on any particular person should not be considered good. But the situation was the same during the Congress government’s tenure and even today the ruling parties are following this kind of dependency. The situation becomes worse when this certain person also starts believing that he is the savior of his party. Recently, during the election campaign in Himachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister found it necessary to focus on himself. In an election rally, he said that when voters go to the polls, they should think about 'me' instead of the local candidate. Vote as if they are voting for me.
Hon'ble PM said that the voters need not remember the name of the candidate in the constituency— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 6, 2022
Hon'ble PM also said 'Vote for the lotus, it is a vote for Modi'
There is no doubt that the Prime Minister is the most popular leader of the country. He has already said that voters are voting in his name by campaigning hard in the last eight-10 years. Perhaps with this in mind, he felt it necessary to tell the voters of Himachal that they should vote with the understanding that they are voting for the Prime Minister and not for any individual or party. In that election meeting of Himachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister also said that it is a privilege to live among the people of Himachal Pradesh. He wants to repay the debt of the people of Himachal Pradesh during that time.
Politicians often talk about building such relationships and repaying debt, but democratic traditions demand that our politics, which has become increasingly individualistic, be reduced. Due to this trend, the Congress party was once dependent on one family. Congress is facing the consequences of that even today. If the support of Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, or sometimes Rahul Gandhi becomes a compulsion for a party like Congress, then it is a danger bell not only for the party but also for the democratic traditions.
Today, even though the BJP is talking about 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', the situation within the party is becoming such that the meaning of the word 'all' is getting reduced to a few names. The country's largest party needs the country's Prime Minister and Home Minister to campaign in every election. When the Prime Minister says that the voter should assume that the voter has voted for him in the polls, then it is not wrong to raise the question that if he thinks that an election can be won in the name of a particular leader.
It is not wrong to ask for votes in the name of the Prime Minister, but it is wrong to create a feeling that a leader is more important than a particular party. The work of the Prime Minister should be voted on, but his name should not be the compulsion of the party.
The first Prime Minister of the country Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had warned the people of the country about such danger. He wrote an article under the pseudonym 'Chanakya' in which he said that the then Congress President (Nehru) had all the qualifications to become a dictator. By blindly trusting them, the people of the country will ease the path of dictatorship. Nehru had said this 10 years before independence. Nehru came to Bikaner during the second general election campaign, a few years after independence. Speaking at an election meeting there, he said that he does not remember the name of the Congress candidate, but he wants voters to vote in the name of the Congress party, supporting the principles and policies of the Congress. Nehru did not say that the voters should remember him while voting He said that the voters should remember the Congress party.
This is the demand of democratic traditions. Even today there is a need to strengthen them by remembering the same traditions. The person is important, but not as important as the idea. Unfortunately, this ideological element is disappearing from our politics. It is even unfortunate when a person begins to consider himself more important than thought. This must change. Elections can be won by promises and 'revadi', but it requires both the leader and the citizenry.