This post aims to understand the changing nature of political participation in India in the 1998. This post examines the article of Yogendra Yadav, Transforming India Social and Political Dynamics of Democracy, Edited by Fran Cine R. Frankel, Zoya Hasan, Rajeev Bhargava And Balveer Arora And Published By Oxford University Press.
Two democratic upsurges and political participation in India
Source: CSDS data unit
First Democratic Upsurge In India
In 1960s India had witnessed the first democratic upsurge following the establishment of Indian democracy. The article discusses about the second democratic upsurge that appeared in the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections Results.
Second Democratic Upsurge in India
The characteristics of the ‘second democratic upsurge’ are the rise of coalition politics, decline of the Congress and rise of the BJP, and the subterranean politics of economic liberalization. The major discernible change that happened in these years is change in social composition of those who vote and take part in political activities. This participation of the underprivileged classes may be termed as participatory upsurge.
This participatory upsurge was mainly focused among the socially disadvantaged, may be based on caste hierarchy, economic class, gender distinction or the division of rural-urban. These socially marginalised classes can be termed as Bahujan generally. Bahujan includes dalit, adivasi, Other Backward Castes (OBC) and all the minorities, but not women or the poor.
Analysing the Lok Sabha Elections and State Sssembly Elections
The article claim the points by analysing the Lok Sabha elections and state assembly elections. The author also try to get some interesting comparisons regarding election results and socio-economic factors. He explains about the higher turn outs in Lok Sabha elections 1967, 1977, 1985, 1989, and 1998 onwards (Source,CSDS Data Unit) and major state assembly elections which has higher turnout rate in 1996 and 1998 than in Lok Sabha elections.
The higher participation in the major state assembly elections was happened due to the 73rd amendment of Panchyath raj act. This resulted in higher participation in Panchayth elections and lead to higher participation rate in major state assembly elections.
In the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections there was a clear increase in the political participation in Bihar, UP and Madya Pradesh or what can be called as Hindi Heart land. The author states that this increase can be called as Belated ‘catching up’. This increase by the Hindi heartland in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections may appear to be a regional difference. However this may turn out to be a reflection of a deeper social difference.
Influence of Rural-Urban and the Gender Divide in Elections
Then the author examines rural-urban and the gender divide using the official election results. The 1984 election was the dividing line. In 1984 former prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by a Sikh body guard. This incident has caused major riots in India and thousands of Sikhs has died which lead to greater sympathetic wave towards Congress party and Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi has won the election in huge majority. This huge majority was mainly came from the rural participation that overtook urban turnout for the first time.
There has indeed been a significant rise in the turnout among women (Sources; National Election Study (NES) 1971, Nc5 1996 •and NES 1998). But compared to participation of men this increase is very minimal. The author arrive at a comment by analysing the data, “The odds that an adivasi will vote are now nearly as high as an upper caste or an OBC Hindu” which should be critically examined.
In 1992 December 6, the Babri masjid was destroyed and that influenced the Muslim community of the country. Therefore, a decline in Muslim turnout was observed in the 1996. But this was only a temporary phenomenon in the post-Babri masjid demolition phase. However, nobody talks about the turn out rate of lower caste Muslim. Their lower turn out rate in elections usually swam in the average political participation statistics of upper caste and class Muslim.
How an Ordinary Person Relate with Democracy? Is it Huntingtonian model?
The author tries to distinguish between voting as a mechanical response from voting as meaningful political action. Ordinary persons or the Aam Aadmi’s of India does not know what Indian democracy is easy rather than a voting process.
The article examines the trajectory of democracy in India in its historical specificity and is different from what the Huntingtonian model. The Huntingtonian model explains that over participation of socially underprivileged or Bahujan can destruct Democracy. But that didn’t happen in India and Indian Democracy survived this. The author concludes the paper by saying that we need a simple-minded optimism about Indian democracy.