Constitutional Erosion and the Challenge to Secular Democracy in India
Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson, Mark Tushnet, eds., Oxford University Press, 2018 Forthcoming).
34 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 17, 2018
This chapter analyzes how the ongoing drift toward increasing religiosity in elections and governance poses a challenge to secular constitutional democracy in India. In drafting India’s Constitution, the Constituent Assembly entrenched a particular conception of secularism informed by the need to inhibit and prevent religious and communal conflict and violence. The essay traces the rise of the Hindu-Right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its electoral victories in the 1990s and early 2000s, and analyzes how the Supreme Court of India and Election Commission have failed to check the ongoing process of “constitutional erosion” of secularism. It then traces how the recent of deployment of religion and religious rhetoric in elections, and the enactment of symbolic legislation and other actions aimed at inflaming religious tensions by the current BJP government threatens other core constitutional values, and poses a long-term threat to the integrity and stability of India’s democracy.
Keywords: Secularism, Religion, India, Constitutional Democracy, Constitutional Erosion, BJP, Narendra Modi, Supreme Court of India, Bommai, Basic Structure Doctrine, Election Commission of India
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