India is a democracy. We, the electorate, elect the leaders as our representatives to govern the country. The elected leaders are expected to serve the nation and the citizens. If the electorate is unhappy with the performance of the elected leaders, they can be chucked out and a new Government can be voted in.
Everybody would think that this arrangement would ensure oversight on the elected leaders. They would be held accountable and responsible in the discharge of their duties to the nation and the citizens. After all, elections do ensure that Governments change and the elected leaders are voted out of power.
In the interim period of elections, if the elected leaders were not up to their task, there would be a groundswell of the electorate’s opinion against them. These would keep them on their toes and there would be some resemblance of working for the public good by the elected representatives. This is how the check and balance of democracy, aided by other pillars, are expected to work and deliver.
Somehow, somewhere, this entire design has gone for a toss in India.
The current scenario
The country is facing twin threats of COVID-19 and Chinese aggression. To further the woes, the economy is in shambles. Leave aside a coherent response; the Government of India has no clue of what needs to be done on any of the fronts. Governance is abysmal and abject.
India has 28 State Governments. None of them, repeat, none of them has any worthwhile answer to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn. None of the Chief Ministers has come up with a sensible plan to redeem their position as the leader of their respective State. The debate is only about which Chief Minister has screwed up the most, not about who has done better.
Right from PM, CMs, MPs, MLAs, all sorts of Ministers to Corporators, Sarpanchs, Zilla Panchayat Members etc; all the elected leaders are unanimous in their incompetence. The COVID-19 and the economy in ruins have brought out in open, for full public view, their sheer ineptitude. Till now they muddled their way through, but now have nowhere to hide, no excuses for their letdowns.
The elected leaders
Despite the spectacular failures, not even a single elected leader is facing any opposition from their constituencies. Leave aside an outpouring of adverse public opinion; there is not even a whimper of a protest from any quarter. There aren’t even silent rumblings to drum up the grievances.
What is even more peculiar is that this silence is irrespective of the political party in power. It is not just about Narendra Modi or the BJP state Governments having no questions to answer. Even the Congress Governments in Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh face no challenge. The regional parties like TMC, TRS, YSRCP, JMM, LDF have nobody to ask them about their pathetic performance.
Anti-incumbency was an oft-repeated word in Indian elections. The incumbent Government would have to face the wrath of the electorate for their misdeeds and shunted out. Now, suddenly, there is no anti-incumbency anywhere in India for any of the elected leaders. This cuts across party lines, for all tiers of elected representatives.
Pillars of democracy
The executive, anyways, never had any incentive to work after getting their appointment letters. The elected leaders remain ensconced in their ego bubbles, accountable for nothing, unable to get any work done out of the executive. The Government officials, across levels, are reluctant to even put up the pretence to work. Why bother?
The judiciary is on its own wonderland delivering judgments through video-conferencing ordering students to appear, in person, for entrance tests and final year exams. They exist in a rarefied state, unmoved by the plight of the populace, whose rights they were to protect. No further comments on the Lords, lest there be contempt.
The cheer-leader Indian media is cheering, as usual, whatever is not worth cheering. A suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput is a god-send for them in these troubling head-lines barren COVID-19 times. What is an economy or a Chinese influence to get unnecessarily worked up about? They, too, follow the cues of the Government to raise the bar on toxic positivity.
Elected leaders are Invincibles
The electorate is silent about the inadequacies and non-deliverables of the elected leaders. They have nothing to complain or whine about the elected leaders’ ineptness and utter lack of ability to pull them and the country out of the mess.
The other branches of democracy have also understood the direction in which the wind is blowing. They have set up their tents so as not to disturb the apple-cart.
With such perverse incentives, elected leaders have nothing to work for but enriching themselves and their breed. They are the Invincibles. The country be damned.