With all the changes going on at the moment, are you wondering to yourself what the state of Indian politics is right now? With all the politicians, media channels, and not to mention your friends and family taking various points of view, things can get a little confusing. And while there is no clear answer, three of the biggest factors in Indian politics are the India Against Corruption movement, the ruling BJP Party, and the impact of Caste and religious politics.
What is India Against Corruption?
In order to understand current affairs in India, it’s important to go back a few years and look at the India against corruption (IAC) movement. There were enormous anti-corruption protests during 2011 and 2012. This was concerning the much publicized Jan Lokpal bill, which looked to reduce the level of corruption and allow transparent investigations to take place following legitimate allegations of corruption. Even though the IAC was eventually divided and has split up due to differences in opinions, the protests and subsequent passing of the bill was seen by many as a movement for positive change that would ensure leaders of the nation would have full accountability for their actions going forwards.
The BJP and Current Issues in Indian Politics
For a clear view of the present situation and to understand the current issues in Indian politics, here is the major political parties:
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the current ruling party with around 31% of the vote share. It is considered as a nationalist, right wing party.
Indian National Congress has around 19% of the vote share and is the main opposition of the BJP. It is considered to be a center-left socialist party.
Bahujan Samaj Party has a 4% vote share, even though it didn’t win a parliament seat. It’s a Dalit socialist party.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) is the strong left-wing party that has just over 3% of the vote share, although its geographical presence is limited.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has 1.38% of the vote share, and is a splinter group form the Indian National Congress Party with a center-left socialist view.
Communist Party of India (CPI) has less than 1% of the national vote and is very left-leaning, with a presence in a couple of states.
As you can see, the BJP and the Indian National Congress are dominating the vote. Because there is no overall majority winner though, this ensures that alliances have to be formed. The BJP is the largest political party in the world in terms of primary membership, so you can see the power they yield, despite having a disappointing run in December 2018 elections. Some have criticized their politics for being too hard-lined.
The Impact of Caste and Religious Politics
To understand the role of caste and religious politics, we can turn to a study in 2018 that found that a majority of Indians prefer political leaders from their own caste, tribe or religion… Especially among non-literates across caste and religious groups.
In fact, less than 10% of those studied said they would be willing to choose a political leader that was from a different caste or religion.
However, in contrast to the above, there was a finding that Indians with higher education were a bit more open to having leaders of a different religion or caste. For college-educated individuals, other qualities in leaders were slightly more important.
Are things getting better in Indian politics? The future of Indian politics is uncertain. While the BJP are in power, their right-leaning policies will continue to flourish. So the answer to this question depends on your political views. One positive thing, is that the IAC movement was able to speak up and get its voice heard, which will ensure that whatever policy a political leader has, they will be forced to act with integrity, avoiding self-interest and remaining corruption free during their time in office. As for being a leader, it seems challenging get the support from individuals that are from outside your caste or religion. This is just part of the challenge in Indian politics.