“IN a democracy, the primary governing agent is the political party. Other pillars of the establishment either implement its decisions or offer checks and balances. Political parties, as veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha wrote in an essay titled ‘Where Indian Democracy Went Wrong’, need funds to maintain cadre and campaign in elections. In India, given the large sums of money needed for both purposes – and in the absence of state funding – parties depend on funding networks of companies and casteclass networks. Some of these networks are so influential they dictate terms to elected governments. This much we know.
This essay is being written to ask if, over the last six years, under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, India is seeing a different mode of rent-extraction from the one that existed under the Congress-headed United Progressive Alliance (UPA). If so, implications for the relationship between the party, its funders and capital at large run deep.”