In India, the world of politics remains same only the reference point changes. On the one hand there is a political party which has aligned its ideology with RSS. This political party has been classified as non-secular or communal as it has differentiated itself from all others by aligning itself to the RSS and various Hindu ideologies. In my views, this is a classic case of differentiation as not only the party in question but also all other political parties (who claim to be secular) have labelled it as non-secular or communal. In the process, all other political parties helped it come to power by joining their share of voice against this party and polarized the voters mind (as they claim – politics of polarization). As they say, BJP is the only non-secular or communal party. In their views, there are two other not so non-secular parties – AkaliDal and the Shiv Sena (both these parties have aligned themselves with the BJP).
On the other hand, the list of secular parties is very long the largest one is Congress, followed by the Left, Samajwadi, BSP, DMK, and others. All the political parties, who have been positioning themselves as champions of secularism is facing big challenge in the form of the appropriate definition of secularism. The major political parties who have classified BJP as the only non-secular or communal party have not classified the political parties viz. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), to the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), as non-secular or communal in nature mostly because they have aligned itself to Muslim ideologies. In my views, most of these political parties viz. Congress, Left, TMC, BSP, DMK believe that anything which is Pro-Muslims is secular in nature. Though they have never expressed their views in words but have always been vocal in action.
Muslims have been the most trusted vote bank in Indian election system and hence all secular parties have been playing the game of winning their trust. At national level Congress been banking on the Muslim vote bank and at regional level Left, TMC, SP, BSP, DMK and others have been focusing on the Muslim vote share. The format of the vote bank politics was well defined and consistent but in the recent past we are witnessing change in the format.
All secular political parties, for long have been playing the same game of ‘minority vote bank politics’. All these political parties apart from moral promise have not done anything for the community. They somehow united Muslim votes for ages and have only made promises with no fulfillment. Muslim votes also experimented with various secular regional and secular national party but did not get any result. They realized that in the game of vote bank politics they don’t get any commitment or fulfillment, worst they don’t even get any different treatment. They realized the game of vote bank politics remains same only the playground and yardsticks changes with changing political parties.
The challenge is the format of the game is changing and we are witnessing new players changing the dynamics in their favour. I believe the change in the format of game is also a function of the rise in Muslim vote share in different parts of India. I have to quote PR Ramesh of Open magazine who wrote earlier this year: “The rise in Muslim numbers is most noticeable in Assam, where they were found to make up 34.2 percent of the population in 2011, up by more than 3 percent since 2001. In West Bengal, this religious group’s share rose by almost 2 percent to 27 percent. In Kerala, it rose by 2 percent to 26.6 percent. Uttarakhand has seen a similar rise to 13.9 percent. In UP and Bihar, the increase is about 1 percent, with the Muslim headcount at 19.3 percent and 16.9 per cent respectively. Jharkhand, Delhi and Maharashtra report similar increases, with the 2011 figures rising to 14.5, 12.9 and 11.5 percent respectively, while Karnataka has seen a rise of just below 1 percent to 12.9 percent.” The change in the vote share is one key deviation in the format of the game. The change in vote share has resulted into the confident and decisive Muslim vote bank. We can witness rise of Regional Muslim Political Parties – Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), to the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM). We have witnessed the rise of these regional political parties and in the next few elections the rise of these parties will force Muslims to rethink their normal voting patterns. The rise of new Muslim Vote Bank will result in:
- The changing pattern of votes can be witnessed in the classic case of the rise of the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM). It has broken out of Hyderabad and opened its account in Maharashtra and has been committed to the other Muslim dominated states viz. Karnataka, Bihar, UP and West Bengal. The rise of regional Muslim parties has implications for all other secular, non-secular parties.
- The branded secular parties – Congress, SP, BSP, TNC, etc will see end of traditional Muslim vote bank. If the Muslim parties make a mark, it will force all secular parties to reckon with one simple truth that they are essentially Hindu parties offering a protection racket for the minorities.
- We will witness the rise of new definition of communal political parties which will include both ‘Hindu Communal’ and ‘Muslim Communal’
- The regional and national secular parties will progressively align among themselves with a ‘Hindu Communal’ and ‘Muslim Communal’ parties. In Uttar Pradesh, BSP or SP will have to align with the likes of MIM if they want to make an impact.
- The traditional Hindu Communal party – BJP will have to figure out whether the polarization of votes will lead to a reverse consolidation of the non-minority vote or there can be alignment between ‘Hindu Communal’ and ‘Muslim Communal’ parties.
- There is very high chances that the new Muslim parties viz. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), to the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) may end up building a strong mass base exactly the way the BSP did with Dalits and a lower caste coalition.
No wonder, we are living in the exciting time of vote bank politics which is witnessing change in the format of the game.