During this campaign, the erosion of Indian democracy will also have suffered from the role played by money. It is already clear that these elections are the most expensive in Indian history, with parties already having spent about $7 billion according to Milan Vaishnav (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), an authority on the subject. Never before have so many small denominations been seized from the homes of candidates for Parliament or from political party’s headquarters, with the BJP beating all records in this area: we are already at half a billion dollars, more than two and a half times the total amount seized in 2014. All this money, that one can pay anonymously to the parties since 2016 (which the former head of the Election Commission Commission, S.Y. Qureshi, called the "officialization of crony capitalism"), is used to buy votes, but also to finance election propaganda.
On this matter, India has innovated by making social media the first vector of political communication: if politicians still hold meetings, nothing beats WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook etc. to saturate the public space. Hence, a massive investment in a multilingual workforce to spread the word in the form of disinformation and trolling.
In this context, many opponents considered that these elections could well seal the fate of Indian democracy. However, it did not prompt them to form an alliance in a more advanced way than in 2014, each wishing to defend their ideas/interests - following a logic that can be found elsewhere and that generally opens a boulevard for populists, or even neo-authoritarians. On May 23, we will know if Indian voters are more concerned about the future of Indian democracy than the progressives opposed to Modi.
Copyright : PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP