Rahul Gandhi cites Swedish democracy report and says, ‘India is no longer a democratic country’
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi cited Sweden institute’s ‘Democracy Report’ and took to Twitter to claim that “India is no longer a democratic country”. He tagged the report along with his comment, which emphasised that over the recent years Indian democracy has been reduced from ‘world’s largest democracy’ to ‘electoral autocracy’. The Congress leader slams Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the outcome and accused his regime for stifling freedom of speech and expression.
The report highlighted that over the recent decade the world witnessed a ‘steep’ decline of liberal democracies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. India was placed among the least 10 countries with ineffective democratic values, lower than its neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal.
On Wednesday, Sweden-based V-Dem [Varieties of Democracy] Institute released its fifth annual democracy report, titled ‘Autocratisation goes viral’. The organisation which holds the largest database regarding the world’s democracies pointed out that India lost 23 points over last seven years. The report said, “Most of the decline occurred following BJP’s victory in 2014 and their Hindu nationalist agenda.” It stressed that the cause of the country’s downgraded status was its “muzzling” of the media, and unjust use of defamation and sedition laws.
The report said, “India is, in this aspect (censorship) now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal. In general, the Modi-led government in India has used laws on sedition, defamation, and counterterrorism to silence critics. For example, over 7,000 people have been charged with sedition after the BJP assumed power and most of the accused are critics of the ruling party.”
Former Congress president’s social media statement came a week after publication of a global report by US government-backed NGO Freedom House which changed India’s status from “free” to “partly free”. The US democracy watchdog in its ‘Freedom in the World’ report stated that “political rights and civil liberties have eroded in India since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014”.
The government denounced the Freedom House report and defended that the country has been following democratic practices. It called the report “misleading, incorrect and misplaced”.