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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Number game: Editorial on BJP’s shrill call to bag 400 seats in ongoing Lok Sabha elections

It appears that the Bharatiya Janata Party's numerical majority, achieved through means fair and foul, could also render some of the basic constitutional tenets vulnerable in the public eye

The Editorial Board Published 23.04.24, 05:52 AM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi File Photo

The ethical chasm between ambition and integrity had been interrogated by Shakespeare in a famous passage in Julius Caesar. Indian elections are not short on drama; neither are they shorn of ethical conundrums that would have been of interest to the man from Stratford-upon-Avon. Consider the case of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s shrill call to bag over 400 seats in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Several leaders, including the prime minister, have been heard echoing this sentiment. But it seems that the BJP’s vaulting ambition has had unintended consequences. Reports from the ground have indicated that segments of the electorate are anxious that an electoral majority that is even more brutish than the one in 2019 may lead the BJP to change the Constitution, the bedrock on which stands the edifice of Indian democracy. Again, in Rajasthan, Mr Modi’s push for a tally of over 400 seats has also led to apprehension among Dalits and Adivasis — important targets of the BJP’s social engineering enterprise — that it would lead to the abolishment of reservations. The Opposition, unsurprisingly, is doing its bit to fan the fire. So much so that the Big Two — the prime minister and the Union home minister — have had to take steps to assuage the fears. Mr Modi has desisted from raising the 'chaar sau' slogan in some rallies; Amit Shah has dismissed the possibility of the reservation policy being tinkered with.

The BJP’s tactical — temporary? — retreat on the issue is certainly a part of its electoral firefighting. But the tides of the political affairs of men should not deflect public attention from an underlying dilemma. The BJP has always argued in favour of electoral dominance. The resultant firm cushioning, the party believes, is essential for achieving stability and a muscular policy. But it appears that the BJP’s numerical majority, achieved through means fair and foul, could also render some of the basic constitutional tenets vulnerable in the public eye. This, in turn, raises a tantalising query: is the era of coalition politics — a period that the BJP demonises — more desirable in terms of protecting constitutional ideals as well as the framework of federalism? The argumentative Indian, as opposed to the ambitious politician, is likely to ponder the possibility.

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