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BJP’s hegemony and party structure spark concerns. But its power is fragile

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Two weeks ago, with Home Minister Amit Shah in front of him, corporate leader Rahul Bajaj spoke of an environment of fear gripping the country. While Shah addressed the concern in his response, government ministers and government-aligned public voices were quick to attack Bajaj — thereby validating Bajaj’s concerns.

At its core, Bajaj was expressing a concern about the hegemony of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule at the Centre, and how it silences the criticism required for effective policy. The logic that undergirds this concern is straightforward. Political parties are highly susceptible to “group think,” as the careers of those in a party organisation are often linked to affirming the views of its leader. The leader’s hold over the party is linked to the relative absence of criticism. This generates incentives for those in the party to withhold even legitimate criticisms, or contradictory evidence, to the party leadership, as well as for the party leadership to stifle dissenting or critical views.

All this is well known, but the hegemony of rule by a single party (in this case, the BJP) takes this logic one step further. Fundamentally, when a party is hegemonic, the chief aim of policy is to bolster its own organisation and........

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