28 October, 2020

Republic Day Special | Opinion: Democracy Is About Difference And Its Celebration, Drowning Voice Can Be Counterproductive

As the Indian Republic draws to 70, the hopes and dreams lie in vibrant debate. The challenge will lie in addressing the yearning for identity in a way consistent with the practices of democracy, writes Mahesh Rangarajan

Post-Colonial Shift
Students of St Xavier’s College, Calcutta, during a protest in September 1938
Photograph by Getty Images
Republic Day Special | Opinion: Democracy Is About Difference And Its Celebration, Drowning Voice Can Be Counterproductive
outlookindia.com
2020-08-30T16:15:03+05:30

A year ago, it was clear that republican democracy was at a crossroads. The very term is about a place where choices are made about which direction to proceed in and at what pace. This isn’t the first time India has been at such a juncture, but there is a crucial ­difference. In May 2019, India’s voters didn’t just give the Modi-led NDA government a second term in office, they also increased the seats and voteshare of the ruling party. Together with allies, the BJP polled an impressive 45 per cent of the popular vote. This meant, at the very least, that there is one ruling party at the helm of affairs in New Delhi for a decade with a majority of its own—for the first time since the 1980s, when the Congress was in power under Indira Gandhi and then Rajiv.

There is another crucial difference: India then had very few opposition governments. Madras, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Guwahati, Aizawl and Srinagar were among the few state capitals where the CM was not from the Congress. The Congress under Indira, especially after 1972, commanded almost...

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