By Sushil Kutty
Banking on the Muslim voter pool alone is a faux pas. Opposition alliance INDIA’s quest to pitch one-on-one unified opposition candidates against BJP nominees in all 543 parliamentary seats in 2024 will work only if a big enough portion of the Hindu electorate responds positively. There is no need to pursue the Muslim electorate as the Muslim vote-bank is already on default mode in favour of ‘INDIA’ parties.
Fact is, conflagrations like the one in Nuh, Haryana, are consolidating Hindu votes behind the BJP. The TINA associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is further accentuated when there is open minority belligerence. Secular parties need to put a halt to alienating Hindus who then line up behind the “Hindu nationalist party” as the Hindus have nobody else to fall back on.
The times have changed. The current lot of Hindu youth are less castiest than their earlier generation. Alienating them by pitching them against their Muslim counterparts comes with diminishing returns. There is a growing perception being built that Muslims are even more vicious to the Dalit than upper caste Hindus.
The Modi government’s two-pronged strategy is working. One, implement the Sachar Committee recommendations. Two, break down the caste system. Education and urbanization are bringing about far reaching changes even if at a relatively slow pace.
Like it or not, the future and pace of electoral politics in India will be charted by the consolidated Hindu vote-bank with the blurring of castes – a direct result of increased appeasement of Muslims at the cost of all others. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put wings to Hindu consolidation with his newfound love for Pasmanda Muslim and policy of Muslim “santushtikaran”.
With TINA in force, the increasingly consolidating Hindu vote-bank is looking for a saviour. And it is running out of time. Now, there is this Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal, which goes with the tag “Only Sanatani Hindu Party”. But the fledgling ESBD is composed of a bunch of amateur politicians from all walks of life – people drawn to the fold because Hindus believe the time has come to fight the “Islamification” of India.
Civil society may laugh, ridicule and belittle, but the ESBD is championing an idea that has been in the back of a majority of Indian Hindu’s mind from since the partition of India. It is a powerful idea with an intense pull. It is heady. And it is taking, if not already taken, hold. The Indian Hindu doesn’t want India to slip out of his hand to ‘One World One Religion’.
Gazwa-e-Hind is ‘One India One Religion’ and that too is contributing to Hindu consolidation. Economic development and a more equitable distribution of the developmental cake will increasingly bring about BR Ambedkar’s annihilation of the caste system. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the perpetuation of the caste system is on its last few legs.
The point is an alliance like INDIA cannot live in denial. Mewat’s Congress MLA Mamman Khan’s role is under the lens. Mamman Khan blames cow vigilante Monu Manesar for what happened in Nuh. This might help the Congress electorally in Mewat, but Mewat is the only Haryana district with a Muslim majority. The rest of Haryana is witnessing a race for Hindu consolidation.
To reiterate, alliance INDIA will go the way of the UPA if the alliance partners alienate the humongous Hindu vote-bank. What succeeded in Uttar Pradesh will succeed in the other states, too. States like West Bengal are waiting for a threshold to cross before the Hindu backlash comes. Minority-ism is feeding majoritarian-ism and it is just a matter of time.
The BJP received a vote share of 31 percent in 2014. In 2019, the vote share jumped to 37 percent. Alliance INDIA is banking on 60-70 percent who did not vote for the BJP to defeat Modi, forgetting that both times when 31 and 37 percent voted BJP, not all of the remaining 60-70 voted for opposition parties. A look at voting figures of 2014 and 2019 will tell the story.
The percentage of voters who stay away from polling booths on voting day are always overwhelmingly Hindu. The Muslim, on the other hand, out of resolve and herd mentality makes sure to cast his/her vote. He never misses. The floating vote and the one perched on the fence are always Hindu by a majority.
It is this shifting, indifferent and amorphous Hindu vote-bank that must be cajoled to the polling booth. The BJP won 2014 and 2019 because out of the 60-70 percent voters half did not cast their votes. The opposition parties collectively got less than even the 31 and 37 percent the BJP scored. Bottom-line, in the changed circumstances since 2014, there is this theory that it is the Hindus who separate victory from defeat.(IPA Service)