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India’s democracy was always robust and thriving: The West and Indian liberal ecosystem owe an apology for malicious fear-mongering

The Indian democracy was never in danger of devolving into 'authoritarianism' as propagandists supporting the INDI block alleged in their alarmist claims. As they now hail the results because the opposition parties have fared better than their expectations, it is worth remembering it is the process that makes a democracy robust and not the end results that protect the democracy from sliding into autocracy.

This week, the 7-weeks-long Lok Sabha elections drew to an end in the victory of the NDA alliance with the BJP short of the majority mark and a substantial improvement in the tally of seats won by an alliance of the opposition parties, called as the I.N.D.I bloc. 

Though the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the elections, its individual seat tally came down significantly from 303 to 240 seats, a loss of 63 seats that plunged the party below the 272 mark required to form a government and rendered it dependent on allies to stake a claim at the government.

The Congress party, the principal opposition party of the INDI alliance, improved considerably from its previous showing, winning 47 more seats than what it had won in 2019 to take its tally to 99. The results sent Congress supporters and workers, some of whom doubled as X influencers and YouTube creators, into a frenzy of celebrations as they hailed the verdict as historic and against PM Modi.

Likewise, several Congress leaders and opposition legislators who emerged victorious sang paeans to the voters who voted in favour of their parties and ensured ‘democracy is alive’ in the country even as they sought votes in the name of deposing PM Modi, whom they claimed would dismantle the remaining democratic framework of the country and usher it into an era of authoritarianism should he come back to power at the Centre.

From making outrageous claims that the EVMs were hacked to produce results in favour of the ruling dispensation to claiming that the Election Commission was working at the behest of the Modi government, this election saw a barrage of unwarranted fear-mongering and baseless allegations by the opposition leaders, their cheerleaders online, YouTubers who lost their job in media channels for their unabashed bias, and the Western media, who tried to cast the elections as a formality to reinstate Modi as the Prime Minister of the country for the third time.

The aim was not just to create grounds for rationalisation of their defeat but also to discredit the Modi government in case the results didn’t come out as per the expectations of the INDI alliance. PM Modi on Friday took a jibe at the opposition for perpetually carping about the EVM malfunctioning. “Are EVMs alive or dead? Since these people kept attacking EVMs, I have not seen anyone complaining after Tuesday evening,” Modi said.

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the leaders of the INDI alliance who was jailed for his alleged involvement in the Delhi liquor scam, claimed the centre was afraid of him. The leader, who lost all 7 parliamentary seats in Delhi to the BJP, did not bother explaining the mountain of evidence collected against him by the ED and his party leaders, many of whom are in jail and have been denied bail multiple times citing prima facie evidence by the courts. 

Others, especially Congress, led a campaign to discredit PM Modi by alleging that he served the interests of prominent businessmen like Adani and Ambani rather than the general public. They also accused the BJP of engaging in corruption through electoral bonds, despite Congress benefiting from the same scheme. The Congress network intensified these accusations and false claims, with numerous propagandists pretending to be impartial voices spreading propaganda on their social media accounts while ignoring the truth.

Western media houses, Indian ‘intellectuals’ fear-monger ‘democracy in danger’, backpedal after election results

The Western media houses, which often furthered the Congress propaganda and sought to delegitimise democratically elected PM Modi with alarmist tropes like ‘democratic backsliding in India’ relied on allegations levelled by the Congress party and the opposition parties to rail against the Modi government. Several columns in the run-up to India’s national elections attacked the Modi government and warned that India’s democratic credentials were fast eroding under the current regime.

In India, several influential social media users and left ideologues tried to sway public opinion by painting Congress and the opposition as the victims of ‘fascism’ and ‘unfair political practices’. Aakar Patel, former head of Amnesty India, which had to shut down its offices in India over violations of FCRA laws, kept pushing conspiracy theories popular among left-leaning supporters that elections were not free and fair in the country. A hitjob published by The Guardian against Amit Shah amid the general elections quoted Patel to characterise the Home Minister in a bad light—an instance that shows how Indian liberals teamed up with foreign publications to undermine elections and unfairly tip the polls in favour of the opposition by running smear campaigns against the top leaders of the country.

Days after the election results showed significant gains for the opposition alliance, the Western media organisations took a stunning volte-face, hailing India for the “return of democracy”. “With the result, India’s strained democracy appeared to roar back to life, its beaten-down political opposition reinvigorated,” an article published in the left-leaning portal New York Times read. In a Washington Post editorial titled “In India, the voters have spoken. They do not want autocracy”, the media outlet notorious for promoting tendentious voices and taking anti-Modi and anti-India stands, the 2024 Lok Sabha election results were hailed saying, “When the vote tally was revealed Tuesday, India’s democracy looked to be in far better shape than anyone thought.”

Not results but processes and institutions define the health of a democracy, and India’s democracy has never been so healthy as it is today

It wasn’t the process but the results that supposedly caused democracy to “roar back” again in India if the Western media are to be believed. It is safe to assume that if the results had granted Mr Modi a thumping majority in the parliament, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and several other biased media organisations would be busy writing obituaries to the Indian democracy. These hypocritical standards to gauge the democratic health of countries are why publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and several other media outlets are fast losing their dwindling credibility in the eyes of their readers.

The Western media houses and the Indian liberal ecosystem claimed democracy was in danger and that dictatorship was slowly spreading its ugly claws in the country. When the results were declared, the very same lot quickly discarded these claims and hailed voters for ‘saving the democracy’.

Free and fair elections mean the country’s electoral processes, its statutory bodies responsible for conducting elections, police administration and law enforcement officials, and the judiciary overlooking the procedures were independent, impartial, and conscientious in delivering their respective duties, not the results which are just a byproduct of the elections.

Therefore, while the fear-mongering of the opposition political parties in connivance with the Western media houses about the state of Indian democracy did manage to hoodwink an average voter and goad them to the nearest ballot centre to cast a vote for ‘saving democracy’, the electoral results once again proved that democracy was never in danger in the country, it was always robust and thriving. EVMs worked perfectly fine, and the entire election process, spanning seven weeks, culminated without any untoward incident. Credit also goes to the EC officials for their stupendous efforts to conduct elections where 969 million were eligible to vote, of which 640 million voters chose to fulfil their duty and cast their vote. 

Results of election results are not an accurate indicator of the health of democracy. The processes instituted, the institution that conducts the election and sets up voter booths, and the police administration that ensures voters come out to cast their votes while keeping anti-social forces at bay. Voters voting in favour of one’s preferred political party or voting against the BJP doesn’t ‘save democracy’, voters exercising their rights and getting to choose candidates that represent them is what democracy is. India always had a robust and thriving democratic tradition, and hopefully, the opposition will stop stoking voter anxiety by raising the bugbear of ‘democracy is in danger’ under PM Modi’s leadership.

Those who raised aspersions on the democratic ethos of the country and made scandalous allegations of ‘democratic backsliding in the country’, and ‘EVMs can be hacked’ owe an apology for misleading the country with dangerously misleading rhetorics now that the electoral outcome is in their favour.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Jinit Jain
Jinit Jain
Writer. Learner. Cricket Enthusiast.

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