Indian General Election 2019: Progressive BJP and Dynasties-led Congress Party
|Indian General Election 2019: Progressive BJP and
Dynasties-led Congress Party
India, one of the oldest and largest democracies in the world, stands at the brink of the 2019 general elections. The 2019 Indian general election is currently being held over the course of seven phases, which began April 11 and will continue through May 19, 2019. The elections constitute the 17th Lok Sabha (House of the People, the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament). Approximately 900 million Indian citizens, 18 years of age or older, are eligible to vote, and they will elect 543 Members of the Parliaments.
The opposition between the two major contenders, the Congress party and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), grabs the spotlight. This election is a fight between perspectives and viewpoints as well as between the dynasties-led Congress party and the more traditional feel and approach of the BJP.
From the point of view of the stakeholders of the Indian democracy, this election is hardly a fight. The tenure and the progressive leadership of the BJP governance don’t really have a competitor in the Congress this time with the their leadership being in the hands of an inexperienced contender.
According to The Times of India, the major economic achievements of the incumbent BJP government include an inflation rate less than 4 percent, GST reform, and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code as well as programs in recent years that have positively touched many among the Indian masses. These programs include the Jan Dhan Yojana ( People’s money Scheme) and rural cooking gas and electricity for homes. According to the IMF, the Indian economy has been growing in recent years, and its GDP growth rate is among the highest in the world for major economies. India is expected to be the fastest growing major economy in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, with GDP projected to grow at 7.3 percent.
Prime Minister Modi’s government pursued demonetization in the national interest, and has identified and de-registered 338,000 shell companies, identified and recovered $18 billion in black money since 2014, which almost doubled India’s tax base.
Income tax raids
In April 2019, raids conducted by the Income Tax department found unaccounted for cash amounting to millions of dollars along with liquor and documentary evidence in the premises of people with close connections to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath of Congress. PM Modi has highlighted this evidence stating that corruption is part of the Congress Party’s culture.
National security and terrorism
In response to the 2019 Pulwama attack from Pakistan, the Indian Air Force conducted surgical air strikes inside Pakistan — for the first time since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. According to the Pew Research Center, both before and after the outbreak of recent India-Pakistan tensions, their 2018 and 2019 surveys suggest that the significant majority of the Indian voters consider Pakistan as a “very serious threat” to their country, and terrorism to be a “very big problem.”
The BJP campaign has highlighted that the Congress Party has been in power for five generations of the Nehru dynasty, and its past promises and campaign issues to the farmers and people living in rural areas have been empty. The BJP campaign claims that recent farmer loan waivers by Congress have not reached “even 10% of the farmers” nor has it helped the financial situation of the farmers. BJP highlights that its “Kisan Samman Nidhi” helps small farmers at the time of seed planting through a direct deposit to their accounts.
Social media abuses and fake news
According to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the 2019 Indian election has attracted a systematic attempt to spread misinformation through the social media. Facebook claims that over a hundred of these social media advocacy accounts spreading disinformation about the 2019 Indian elections have been traced to “employees of the Pakistani military public relations wing.” Some others have been linked to the Congress Party.
The BJP has highlighted that the Congress Party has relied on Nehru’s dynasty for leadership since India’s independence and lacks internal party institutions. The BJP additionally claims that when Congress has been in power, freedom of press and Indian government institutions have “taken a severe beating.” During the election campaign, its leaders have mentioned the Emergency of 1975, nepotism, corruption and widespread abuses of human rights under Congress Party rule in the past.
According to the India Spend report, the Congress Party has had about twice as many dynastic parliamentarians than BJP in each of those three recent general elections, and higher than all major political parties in India except the Samajwadi Party. This data was based on the research of Kanchan Chandra, professor of Politics, who analyzed the 2004, 2009 and 2014 general elections. Many of these dynastic politicians in India who inherit leadership positions have never held any jobs and lack state or local experience, states Anjali Bohlken, a professor and Political Science scholar. This raises concerns of rampant nepotism and appointments of their own friends, relatives and cronies if elected.
Bollywood and Politics
In India, apart from religion, three other things that people worship are politics, Bollywood and cricket. As India goes through one of the most crucial General elections ever, here are the big Bollywood stars that are contesting:
Sunny Deol (BJP), Urmila Matondkar (Congress), Prakash Raj (Independent), Hema Malini (BJP), Shatrughan Sinha (former BJP candidate, switched to Congress), Jaya Prada (BJP), Raj Babbar (Congress), and Kirron Kher (BJP).
The biopic movie based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s life has created controversy in this year’s election. The Election Commission (EC) has put a stay on the release of the movie that was set to hit the theatres on April 11. The Financial Times writes that the film “depicts Modi’s rise from humble origins as the son of a railway station tea-seller to a strongman who vows to avenge Pakistani terror attacks.”
While earlier the Supreme Court and Censor Board cleared the film, the EC banned it just a day before its release. The EC has asked filmmakers to defer the release of the film until the last phase of the elections on May 19.
India has begun to vote, and the results will be due on May 23, 2019. The country awaits the results this time with a heavy breath. Will India choose the big leadership or will it continue to choose the legacy family?