In a recent article in the Hindustan Times, a dwelling phenomenon has been highlighted. With rising nationalism and communal violence, the fact that people vote for candidates who have or are inciting communalism has been a topic of debate. Harry Stevens foraged through government data and forms to come to a stark conclusion: People are four times likelier to vote for a candidate guilty of inciting communal violence, than the ones who didn’t do any wrong.
As India has always been on the brink of communal disharmony since its independence from the British Empire, this news is rather unsettling. In the years reaching to August 1947, India had witnessed an irrational sense of hatred and violence among two major religious groups. The year after Independence saw the worst religious conflict till date. The seeds that were planted in those years have been well nourished and bred by opportunist politicians, who have used them as a lucrative source to create vote banks. Minority appeasement has become one of the most disliked terms in Indian politics, and politicians have often been blamed for bringing it to life. The majority of the population has not been keen on living under such policies. This anger, whether rightly placed or not, has been brewing for generations.
It is no hidden fact that the majority of the population in India is Hindu. For centuries, Hindus have been taught and raised with the notion that they are the rightful descendant of Bharat, leading to a sense of entitlement. However, after independence, India is a constitutionally secular country, with numerous communities.
Coming to the issue at hand, why do people vote for those who have encouraged a disparaging communal ideologue? There is considerable proof in the present day scenario, as one such person leads the largest democracy in the world, and another leads the most populous state in India. The reason lies mainly in the psychology of the voters. If the voter identities are scrutinised, it will be seen, that the majority of a particular constituency is voting for the tarred candidate. The reason for this is that the majority feels secure when they listen to communal or anti-minority dialogues, slogans, speeches, etc. This is classic human behaviour. Animal instinct as psychologists would say. When you are cornered, and your back is against the wall, you fight back for your survival. There is no other way.
What is interesting and perhaps enlightening is that this is not even the case. The majority populace of India is neither cornered nor being attacked. They are made to believe that this is the case, even though there is no proof of physical or emotional intimidation from the minorities. But sadly, the majority is convinced that they are under attack.
Minorities have been comforting vote bank for decades. They have been exploited by every political party because the minorities are the easiest to convince and influence to vote for a party. They are the one who would benefit from the election’s outcome and needed basic rights, access to quality living, wages, etc. So, appealing to them was easier as they would ultimately deliver, either under influence or in desperation.
What we see today, whether it was the stunning victory of Yogi Adityanath in UP or the sudden rise of BJP in alien states like West Bengal, is that majorities are now coming to the streets to vote. And if basic arithmetic has taught us anything, then it is that, when the majorities cast their votes in unison, minorities stand at a feeble position. A successful plan to somewhat brainwash the majorities into believing that they are vulnerable and about to get extinct has made them fight for their “rights”. The segregation has taken a unique turn, where the majorities in strikingly large number, feels that the minorities have outnumbered them. And that is how the present political scenario in India is being framed out.