The BJP is the front-runner in India’s 2019 elections, but its political standing suggests that dominance could be a liability rather than an asset.
Muslim MPs currently occupy 19 seats of the Lok Sabha (or 3.5 percent of its members), the lowest figure since 1952.
Electoral finance reforms could relax limits on expenditures, but should also feature full transparency with adequate verification and enforcement mechanisms.
The rise of wealthy candidates is driven by the weak representative role of India’s elected politicians, which discourages quality governance and leads elected politicians to view their election campaign as an economic investment in the future.
Costlier elections may not result from lower levels of morality in the political class or from a surge in bribe giving. They instead likely flow from rising levels of political competition.
Despite obvious obfuscation, there is much to be learned from asking politicians about campaign finance and the role of black money in Indian elections.
While genuine political finance reform would be politically popular for the BJP, recent moves have done little to enhance transparency or dampen flow of black money.
India is no stranger to the dilemma of money in politics, but this nexus has not been the subject of sustained scholarly attention.
Money does not guarantee electoral victory in India; what it does is guarantee you a seat at the table.
The 2019 elections will be an important moment to see whether India can remain a civilisational state cultivating coalition politics as a way to perpetuate “unity in diversity” or it will continue its recent march towards a unitary, ethno-religious state.