The good part of democracy is its systemic discontent. In this context, it refers to a generic anger against the social and political elites, irrespective of the political party and ideology they belong to. It is, however, suicidal to have anger without credible alternatives.
In the upcoming elections, the electorate will reject more than elect. While this is bad in itself, the more ominous aspect is the cynical use of this situation by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a democracy, political parties, especially the ruling party, are expected to ameliorate the situation to whatever extent possible. But what India is witnessing today is a cynical attempt by the BJP to exacerbate the crisis, robbing the electorate of any trust it had in the political process.
For the BJP-RSS combine, keeping the electorate frustrated has become the new instrument of political mobilization. This is why the Centre is conducting raids on the leaders of the Opposition even as the electoral process is on. It is doing so to exploit this systemic anger against the political elite, even as it is delegitimizing investigative institutions.
Even if the electorate understands that the raids on Opposition leaders are a brazen misuse of power by the ruling party, they might rejoice at the targeting of the elite who have lost credibility. Even if the electorate knows that such raids will not finally yield anything, it will be content with the symbolic humiliation of the elite. This is mobilization of cynicism at its best.
The electorate will vote in this mood of overall cynicism. It is confused and less enthusiastic than ever, a phenomenon the popular media is referring to as a “wave-less” election.
The BJP’s control over the media has also helped it to prevent a coherent narrative from emerging out of the growing discontent.