– V.N. Balakrishna | October 21, 2013
Indian politics without “vote banks” is like an egg without its shell. This malaise has become so accentuated over the years that one wonders if India has become “diversity without unity.”
When Narendra Modi addressed a huge election rally in Kanpur last Saturday he put his finger on the cancer. People of Uttar Pradesh should “bury” vote bank politics forever as it leads to “divisive” politics, he said bringing cheers to harassed citizenry of India who have paid a heavy price supporting emotional “nonissues.”
Modi did well in focusing on cancerous “vote bank” in a way that is reassuring to a sizeable youth voters. Unless India unites emotionally there can be no physical reunion even within demarcated Indian borders despite the claim to the contrary. Lingering Ram temple issue is rightly overshadowed by staggering economic problems the country faces today. Modi touched a chord in voters when he asked them to reject parties like Congress reciting “mantra of secularism.”
In a democracy where personalities rule one cannot miss an eerie parallel between Congress Dynasty and Bourbon Dynasty of yore as Congress too has “learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.”
Congress spooking Muslims and securitizing insecurity into vote bank has its inherent dangers as Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind chief Syed Mehmood Madani was quick to point out by cautioning not to stir up Narendra Modi bogey.
“These so-called secular parties should explain what their governments in different states have done. What promises they have fulfilled and which ones still remain. They should seek votes on this basis and not on the basis of fear of somebody else (coming to power),” he said.
Secular mantra reaped dividends in the past but Gujarat proved to be a bottleneck for Congress to uncork. Launching frontal attack on “communal” Modi in three successive assembly elections “insecure” Muslim voter was still not placated and it ended up only in enraging those half-hearted Hindu voters to vote for the BJP.
Wearing secular badge can never be answer to good governance. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was right in pointing out the futility when he went to the extent of saying “Gujarat has become communalized,” and “there is no point in resisting the mindset of Gujaratis.” When Congress lost all six by-elections in June this year, it only reinforced what Ahmed Patel had said. Message is clear: Do (development) or Perish!
Today Congress revival is limited to cobbling up simple majority with “like-minded parties” for a third term after the 2014 general elections. Yet real spoilers could be the discerning youth who are no longer amused with Congress secular striptease.
What does Indian youth think today? Youths in 16 cities across India gave some startling responses to a recent NDTV-Hansa Research Youth Poll. Corruption topped at 63% followed by sanitation, cleanliness, garbage disposal and lack of good roads at 43%. Isn’t sprucing up living standards more of a priority than safeguarding gossamer of secularism?
It will be cold comfort for people of India if Congress fails to see Madani’s rap on knuckle as anything but a straw in the wind.