2014 Elections :My 80% vs Your 13% or Vice Versa
Since many weeks now, political discourse in India has become minority focused. Every party has something to say and it is done with more and more crudity. It seems that a few parties want to be seen as anti minority thinking that it will fetch them increased votes from the majority community. Then there are other parties who take a pro minority stand thinking that it will get them increased committed votes from the minority community. The fight in the coming 2014 elections is sought to be between secular and non secular forces.
It would be worth examining the question do votes get polarized on religious lines on a pan India basis. The Hindus form the majority community in India constituting around 80% of the population. The minorities consist of Muslims at about 13% followed by Christians at 2.3% and Sikhs 1.9%. The balance is made by Jains and Buddhists and others. India's population is touching a figure of 130 crores.
The main focus is on Muslim voters and their votes. The Muslims form nearly 31% of Andhra Pradesh, 25% of Kerala, 18.5% of UP and 16.5% of Bihar populations. In rest states, except Jammu & Kashmir and Lakshwadeep where they are in a majority, they are around 10% or less of the population.
The battle of the ballot is thus sought to be 80% vs 13%. A school of thought wants to appear to be harsh towards the minorities and thus expects to get a maximum share of votes from the 80% community. The other school of thought wants to appear not favoring either the majority or the minority and expects to garner sizable votes from the minority community in lieu there off. In reality however both schools of thought are playing subtle politics.
The majority appeasing party is assuring the minorities that they have nothing to fear if they come to power, whereas the other group makes sly overtures to the majority community in subtle ways. In the process the politics in the country to a large extent has got divided between the two camps. It does not seem to matter to the two major all India level parties that they are progressively turning into larger regional parties. However their agenda also is getting narrower. If at all they come out of the minority syndrome then they fight on petty issues and now have started calling each other frogs and cockroaches.
Can the minority votes play such an important role in Indian politics? I for one have my doubts. Excepting in constituencies where the minority population is say near to 50% and that too voting is en bloc on religious grounds the minorities are not capable of influencing the election outcome on basis of their religion. Then why this hue and cry. Why do the minorities become focus in elections.?
It is the way a viable alternative has developed in the country versus the party that has ruled the country for nearly five decades since independence that is causing this majority vs minority drama. The Congress has claimed to be a secular party and has ruled for the maximum period at the Center. It has been continuously attacked for appeasing the minorities by its opponents. The impression was that the minorities vote for Congress en bloc and this is the reason for its victory at the hustings.
The right wing party could not get a foot hold. Therefore it designed its strategy to woo the majority community and progressively has given the appearance of being pro majority in a religious manner. This has made the minorities fearful and has created the impression that it will make increasing number of majority vote for them. In post Babri Masjid scenario it has worked in favor of this school of thought and they could even form a government at the Center for one term.
Having thus tasted victory this school of thought is now, post triple state assembly victories in Gujarat, is emboldened to spread it across the whole country. What till recently would not be spoken openly is now stated purposely in TV debates against each other. So while one party is trying to stick to its secular plank the other is out to demolish it lock, stock and barrel. It is here where the traditional Indian characteristic of tolerance will come into play.
Which school of thought will a majority of Indians choose in the 2014 elections. There is lot of unchallenged falsehood going on from all sides. The young and first time voters are being influence in a particular way. In democracy it is fair to woo the voter towards one's ideology. But not at the cost of the country's fundamental values which have held it together all these years.
It would be a dream to see an election in India being fought on issues of governance and bold initiatives announcements for taking the economy forward. There is far too much negativism and criticism in our system. Rubbishing an opponent by smearing his reputation is more common then challenging by expression of ideas. Many a time in political debates some leaders have gone back up to three four generations to smear a leader and a school of thought.
The next election it seems is going to be fought very bitterly because one party may see its eclipse and the other may see it self rising. Thus the stakes are very high. Who so ever comes to power let not the social fabric of India be demolished.
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