Indian electoral politics is deeply divided on caste and community basis.

Congress continuously blames BJP of being “Communal” and has been successful in alienating the population on the basis of Hindu Vs Muslim and to some extent Hindu, Muslim and Christians as major community groups. The electoral strategies are devised on the assumption that each community prefers to vote for its own community candidate and distrusts the Candidates from other communities. A large part of the credit for dividing the society on community basis goes to Congress. It is also one of the reasons because of which the country is unable to progress.

Mr Modi in his SRCC speech held out his concept of “Secularism” as a policy of complete focus on the development. He implied a belief that by focussing on the development and not making “Community” as a parameter for dividing Governance attention, the society will slowly forget the communal differences and move towards communal harmony.

The Congress strategy and belief on the other hand is to actively “Assist the Communal Minorities” through policy push and try to empower them to an extent that they grow more than proportionately compared to the majority community. This incidentally also means that there would be a reverse discrimination against the majority community. Unfortunately they define this and many pseudo intellectuals believe that this policy of reverse discrimination is actually “Secularism”.

I tend to agree with Mr Modi and BJP that the Congress approach is “Pseudo Secularism”. I also further extend the concept to all other forms of discrimination which politicians have brought into the electoral system including “Caste based sub divisions”, “Reservations” etc.

A similar tendency has been exhibited in the Head Lines Today, C Voter opinion poll which has given a detailed analysis of the voter preferences from different caste and community groups to different parties. Accordingly the poll predicts that 57% of the Dalits, 43% of the STs, 68% of Muslims, 19% of Lingayats and 28% of Vokkaligas favour Congress. BJP on the other hand is favoured by 36% Lingayats, 7% vokkaligas and 1% muslims besides 20% Dalits and 18% STs. KJP has 43% support amongst Lingayats, 1% of Vokkaligas and Muslims, 3% of Dalits and 2% of STs. JD(S) on the other hand has the support of 62% of Vokkaligas, 1% Lingayats, 26% of Muslims, 8% of Dalits and 16% o STs. It is only in the Bramhin community that BJP enjoys a majority support at 63%. Congress has 33% support from Bramhins and other parties have only 1 to 2% support from this community.

It is understood that Karnataka has around 15% Lingayat voters, 17% Vokkaliga voters and 23% dalit voters. Information about other groups have lesser voter strength. Besides it is considered that Lingayat voters have a higher concentration in North Karnataka and Vokkaligas in South Karnataka.

All these equations are considered by political parties in selecting candidates and designing the campaigns.

In my opinion, thinking on the lines of Vokkaligas and Lingayats is as much a “Communal” attitude as thinking on the lines of “Hindus”, “Muslims” and “Christians”. True Secularism should surpass both Community based thoughts as well as the Caste based thoughts.

Unfortunately, our corrupt politicians have already brought several legislative measures to perpetuate the communal divisions in the society including creating reserved constituencies, special laws etc.

If India has to progress, we need to break away from these caste and community based politics which constitutes corruption of its own kind along with financial corruption.

BJP now has the right opportunity to experiment a new policy of “Community and Caste neutral politics” in Karnataka in the present elections. This seems to also go with Modi’s vision of “Secularism”.

Strategically, BJP does not have any majority support in the leading communities and hence it has little to lose by adopting a community neutral policy in its campaign as well as in selection of candidates. It is possible that the candidate selection might have reached an advanced stage and it may not leave much scope for any change at present. However , a difference can be brought about in the campaign.

By adopting a “Community and caste neutral policy”, BJP will be able to reestablish its image as a “Party with a difference”. It may also be able to partially out flank the other parties who are deeply recognized as a party of one community or the other.

Further such a policy will attract the attention of the intelligentsia in each community who are able to understand the futility of the Community and Caste based divisions in the society. The voter whom we normally call “Educated” falls into this category. “Education” in this sense is not defined by a “Degree” or “Ability to speak English”. We need to coin a new adjective for this type of education that is able to distinguish what is good for the State or the Country in the long run. The nearest word which comes to my mind is an “Emancipated” voter rather than an “Educated Voter”. An emancipated voter is one who is free from the conventional thoughts of caste and community and takes decisions on a better logic. In Kannada we can call him the “vivEki vOTudaara”.

BJP should therefore focus on a campaign of building a constituency of the “vivEki vOTudaara” (Emancipated Voter)  for best results in the forthcoming elections. This will also be a good contribution to the national electoral politics from the larger perspective of freeing the country from the vicious influence of the current political thinking based only on “Divide and Rule” policy.

Vijayashankar

As a voter of Karnataka

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