India a 'nominal democracy', says ex-poll commission chief

"I therefore consider India a sham democracy," said Lyngdoh, who is here to attend a three-day national campaign for people's right to information on the theme "Reclaiming Democracy," which started Thursday.

"To say that elections in the country are conducted free and fair is absolutely laughable," said the outspoken Lyngdoh, who, during his tenure as chief election commissioner, had taken many powerful politicians to task for violating the election norms.

He said that "rich candidates and people connected with political families" almost always have their way in dictating the terms of the elections in India.

Unless the five percent elite and political families are held accountable to make way for an egalitarian society, India cannot remotely consider itself a democracy, he said, adding that "I cannot think of a democracy without competition".

Asked if India would witness an outburst like in the Arab world, Lyngdoh said: “I don’t see it happening for a long time now."

He blamed the caste system in India as a road-block for an uprising like in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other nations.

"The caste system is like an extended family. They take refuge in each other for security, because politicians have kept them helpless over the years. Unless they get an alternative, this would continue and India would remain divided," he said.

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