U. P. ELECTORAL VERDICT –BJP is not the winner but the Vote Bank Politics is the loser.
Paper No. 6239 Dated 06-Apr-2017
The spectacular UP Electoral Verdict for once broke the traditional vote bank politics that was being played in the country for the last six decades.
Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, National President of Welfare Party of India, pointed out that the BJP's strategy had "successfully rendered the Muslim factor (in elections) ineffective". (http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/hindu-caste-coalition....
The reality that the “Muslim Vote Bank Politics” has not worked this time is yet to sink into the minds of some of the hardliners of the community.
The BMAC Convenor Zafaryab Jilani after a meeting of its office bearers in Lucknow said, "With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the helm of affairs, there is no hope that justice will prevail with the Muslims. Both of them have been Bharatiya Janata Party workers and supporters of Ram temple movement." (http://www.rediff.com/news/report/no-out-of-court-settlement-of-ayodhya-...). This election had nothing to do with the Ayodhya dispute.
The perception that “Hindus got consolidated and Muslims got divided” is not true either. What is impressive and to be welcomed is that this election has indicated that vote bank politics is not necessary to win the elections. M.J. Akbar in his Sunday Column had pointed out that “Muslim women have become the first positive responders to Narendra Modi” and Muslim voters have embraced the BJP’s development agenda.” (http://www.rediff.com/news/column/a-tale-of-two-akbars-and-of-muslim-wom...)
The Grammar of the Vote Bank Politics of the Community:
The grammar of the Muslim vote bank politics has been a political reality in India ever since Independence. In fact the minority population was bracketed in a vote bank group and almost all the political parties according to their political convenience manipulated this religious group for seizing power. The ‘secularists’ even portrayed the Muslims as king makers. The pre-poll analysis of the political experts on UP election that the Muslim votes would be a decisive factor in favour of one party or other as a consolidated religious group of 20 % of state population proved to be wrong.
What is significant is that the winning party- here the BJP completely gave up the vote bank politics and instead focussed on the slogan of development of all, irrespective of the community one belongs to. This was in contrast to the aggressive campaign of SP-Congress Alliance, the BSP, Islamist Clerics and the Urdu media who tried to picture the election as a battle between secularism and communalism. There is a view that hyped “projection of Muslim Voters” turned away the Non Yadav OBC and Non Jatav Dalit Voters from these very forces which tried to show themselves as secularists!
It is a fact that Muslims have all along been against the BJP. But the success of this party in Muslim dominated constituencies like Deoband that is home to Darul Uloom one of the biggest Islamic seminaries in the world, Chandpur, Moradabad Nagar, Noorpur, Nanpara and Nakur indicates that a sizeable section of the community particularly the women influenced by the stand of the party on the issue of Triple Talaq voted for the BJP. The community has for the first time did not follow the dictates of the Mullahs but used their voting power to vote according to their conscience.
Historically, the Muslim leaders as a group, who were responsible for partition of the country while playing into the hands of the colonial power turned their community members hostile to the nationalist aspiration of the country. In post-Independence era, they played into the hands of power hungry politicians and the Mullahs and unfortunately became till now victims of vote bank politics. This has caused immense harm to the community.
In the closing decades of last century the political mobilisation of Muslims as a vote bank made disturbing progress. By using their votes as “poll banks” for a particular party they had unwittingly polarised the society. Once the community was used as vote bank they were quickly forgotten as could be seen from the plight of the community today. They are lagging behind other communities in all social indicators- be it health or modern education. Can it be said that the community has finally realised its folly and had gone for development? It is too early to say and the power hungry vested interests will not leave them alone so easily.
It is ironical that even though the Muslims preferred to vote for the non-BJP parties till recently, the plight of the community had remained the same. The parties that go their votes en-bloc hardly did anything to rescue them from their educational backwardness. The Muslim leaders on the other hand continued treating the community as a marketable commodity and bargained with different political parties in election time for their self-seeking benefits.
The medieval mind set of the Muslims as a distinct political community was a communal interpretation of history. Isolating themselves from the social and political mainstream of national current, they failed to develop their national identity for which religion hardly has any role to play. There are sizeable members in the community, who have full faith in democracy but their voice is so feeble and weak that they are unable to bring out their community from their religion-centric identity. Assertive institutionalisation of the communal distinctiveness of the community by their leaders obstructed them to think independently about their overall development as a part of Indian society as a whole. They in fact created a myth about the fear of the cultural absorption of the Muslims by Hindu majority.
The sum and substance of this discussion is confined to the socio-political triangle of the BJP, the non-BJP and the Muslims. Of them the BJP is said to have realised its “folly". Sooner or later other parties and their leaders will have to realise the grievous harm that has been done to the community in isolating them and treating them merely as vote banks only to be discarded after the elections. Time has come for all political leaders to come out of their cocoons and help the community to join the mainstream.
If there is a lesson in the electoral result of the UP elections, it is that the vote bank is not likely to work as a magic wand to make the community vote for a particular party but let the individuals decide what is best for them and the community. This is the need of the hour for maintaining communal harmony and go for stability and economic growth.
Hopefully, one day the caste based politics should also have the same fate! But it is too early to say now.