The country would see an increased participation of the middle-class in the electoral process if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were to widen its outreach and spread further,political scientist and contributing editor,The Indian Express,Ashutosh Varshney,said.
Varshney,who is also Soi Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University. was speaking at the launch of his book,Battles Half Won – Indias Improbable Democracy on Tuesday.
He said this trend would be a departure from the past where it has been statistically shown that Indias middle class has been voting much less than the subaltern and the less privileged.
The discussion was moderated by Editor-in-Chief,The Indian Express,Shekhar Gupta.
The AAP is beginning to play politics of citizenship where the citizen has direct access to the state, Varshney said,adding that this was different from the clientelistic politics practised so far. Gupta said AAPs impact would spread in the sense of forcing the Congress and the BJP to reset its politics.
Varshney focused on how India had been an exception among low-income countries,emerging from decolonisation.
He credited Gandhi for forging Indian nationalism,in a manner distinct from European states,which focused on homogeneity. Instead,the freedom struggle delinked nationhood from any one language or any one religion,he said.
This,according to Varshney,subsequently enabled the consolidation of Indian democracy under Jawaharlal Nehru.
Varshney pointed to four factors,which had helped sustain democracy in the initial years unique position of Congress,institutionalisation of elections,primacy of the constitution,and minority rights. In the past few decades,institutions like the Supreme Court and Election Commission,Varshney argued,had helped preserve the integrity of the democratic system.
He said political parties,often ridiculed,were also the mainstay of democracy. Plurality of parties had created a situation where power could be abused,but the outer limits were clear. Democracy cannot be suspended anymore, he said.