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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nitish wins Bihar: Trend of Muslims voting for BJP or NDA alliance

Yeh kya ho gaya bhai!
The resounding victory of Nitish Kumar's JD(U) led coalition in Bihar has surprised even the most sympathetic psephologists. Most exit polls had indicated that the NDA was poised to win Bihar but this sort of thumping majority was not predicted.

It was clear that a section of Muslims would vote for JD(U). The reasons were simple. Nitish Kumar looked sincere, he kept the state riot-free, his decision to reopen the Bhagalpur riot cases closed by Lalu Yadav, and remaining steadfast on his commitment to let the AMU campus open in Bihar despite the open opposition of BJP's youth wing BJYM, earned him respect among the community.

Muslims fear nothing more than a communal riot. During Congress regimes in North India, large-scale riots used to occur in cities with substantial Muslim percentage. In each communal riot, tens of thousands would not only be snatched of their means for livelihood but also lost whatever little they had and took them at least twenty years back.

First Congress exploited this fear of riots. In fact, BJP had begun to get a fraction of Muslim vote and its vote share among Muslims would have risen long ago, had the massacre in Gujarat not taken place. Besides, the BJP-led Centre's inaction and the party's refusal to regret the events in Gujarat, turned Muslims even more wary.

No wonder almost everywhere Muslims made it a mission to vote for the candidate who appeared in the strongest position and capable of defeating the BJP. In Orissa, Navin Patnaik failed to keep a check on BJP and the latter's sister organisations.

The anti-Christian violence perpetrated by VHP and Bajrang Dal, later forced him to dump the party. However, in Bihar, the BJP cleverly played second fiddle. The Saffron think-tank was aware that Bihar has one of the highest Muslim concentration (17%) and has regions where Muslim population goes up to 50% or even more so it was prudent to use Nitish's charisma.

While Nitish Kumar succeeded in keeping his secular image intact, perhaps the Sangh Parivar also kept a measured stance as successive failures to form government in the Centre made them review their strategy. The lumpens were kept in check and Hindu remained on the backburner.

The decision to open Bhagalpur riot cases earned Nitish Kumar goodwill. But it was his tough stand of not allowing Narendra Modi for campaigning in Bihar, that proved crucial. Indian Express' editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta mentioned how a Urdu teacher at a rally told him that Nitish is 'sher ka bachcha' as no one else could do it elsewhere.

The tag of lion for not letting Modi into the state, is not unusual. Apparently this had caused enough strain in the coalition but Nitish stuck to his stand. Gujarat carnage is etched in collective Muslim consciousness as it was first large-scale riot shown on live television.

Meanwhile, the other Modi, Sushil Kumar Modi, as Deputy Chief Minister has all along maintained the image of a moderate. It is this sort of moderation which is expected from a right-of-centre party that aims to govern a nation of 110 crore.

The lack of development and the poor governance had dented the image of the state. In fact, the word 'Bihari' had turned into a derogatory term. This affected all Biharis irrespective of caste and creed as it hurt their pride. But during Nitish Kumar's regime, crime was controlled and law-and-order restored. Things were looking up and as a result he has received unexpected support from all quarters.

Right now the BJP is buoyed with its success. But the truth is that the NDA coalition has won Bihar over the plank of development. Any responsible government has to be inclusive and must ensure that all segments of population are looked upon as equal partners in shaping the destiny of nation or the state.

Despite having several polished and mature leaders at the national level ranging from Sushma Swaraj to Arun Jaitley, there is no dearth of communal and lumpen elements in the party who have an open communal agenda.

In Bihar, Nitish Kumar could rein them in. The BJP and the Bajrang Dal-VHP cadre also remained subdued as victor was in sight because of the alliance. But the million dollar question is whether the BJP change the course at the national level and emerge as a right-of-centre but moderate political party?

Let's see.

Similar posts on this blog in the past:
1. BJP and Muslims.
2. 'Pro-Muslim RSS' had irked radicals


Yuyutsu said...

I agree with the gist of your post but had a small point to make:

You seem to be suggesting that the Muslims voted for Nitish because of AMU, Bhagalpur riots issue etc. - but shouldn't the Muslims vote because of the main issues (bijli, sadak, roti, kapda, makan, rozgar etc.) like the other communities? Surely, any party which delivers on these issues the best should be voted in and aren't we insulting the Muslim voter by suggesting that they vote on 'sensitive/emotive' issues rather than the 'core/basic' issues which incidentally affect everyone, be it a Hindu or a Christian or a Sikh....

As for BJP, I have always believed that they are much better than the Congress and the 'seculars' - they have much better administrators and in general, have always 'performed' when in power - their shortcomings have been a failure to keep in check the rabble-rousers and the trouble-makers (who by and large raise bogus issues only when in trouble, to divert attention) and the infighting which seems to hit the party every now and then.

Interestingly, the article (rightly) complements Nitish Govt. for providing a riot-free environment - I couldn't help comparing it with Gujarat, which has been completely incident free as well since the 2002 riots...unfortunately, the CM in that case - who is also one of the best and most honest administrators of our country - has been so badly tainted by the events that he can never play a bigger role in the national political scene....

Archana said...

Personally, I am against the use of religion in politics in a secular democracy. Because of this, I am against BJP and its allies.

I am aware that Bihari Muslims are not so much voting for the BJP, but more for the developmental administration of Nitish Kumar. He has managed to rein in the Muslims as well as the upper caste Hindu votes because of the developmental work and the restoration of law and order situation he has achieved in the state.

Perhaps it was a political necessity for him to stick with the BJP, because he didn't have enough political standing. But now that he has emerged strong because of his own work, if he is truly secular, he should dissociate himself from the BJP and fight on his own in future elections.

My guess is that if he keeps on doing the work he is doing, he will continue to win, even without the alliance with the BJP.

If he sticks to the BJP, ultimately the communal strain of the BJP will begin to affect his politics as well. So, he should dissociate from the BJP if he is sincere about secularism.

Basically, people are sick of the caste and religion politics and they want development and a good law and order system which is free from corruption. This has nothing to do with religion and caste.

Mounal said...

Yuyutsu rightly said, it has nothing to do with roits and religion this time; people are fed up with Lalu and Congress and all they wanted was development. I really congratulate muslims this time that they went beyond religion in electing a candidate. In fact I had so many reasons to explain for Nitish's landsliding victory at:

indscribe said...

Yuyutsu ji: Of course, the issues are same. If the roads are good, they benefit everybody, not just one community.

What I meant was that sometime a few gestures are also important, and this was indication to Muslims that he would do justice to them as well. It was received positively.

Gujarat may also change its image in a couple of years. Who knows?

Archana ji: Yes, if people really get sick of the caste and communal thing, it would change the complexion of Indian politics. Hopefully, every election would be fought on development henceforth.

Mounal ji: Thanks for visiting and for your comment.

urdudaaN said...

If we Indians think we have more political acumen in public than an average person in the west, we should also realize that Muslims show even more political sensibility, as exhibited here.
In my opinion, what Sangh and its facades do otherwise is NOT use of religion in politics, but it IS plain communal-ism. So far as Muslims are concerned, their peace and protection is more important to them than any Modi's pot-hole free roads or flyovers. BJP forgivers should really think if they are talking sense or just turning a blind eye to hate mongers.

Yuyutsu said...


I agree gestures are needed - the good thing is that Nitish has actually gone beyond gestures/tokenisms and delivered.


The problem is that Muslim 'peace and protection' is probably more in threat under Congress than any other party...all of us know how their party leaders have presided over countless riots.

And in my view, Congress and 'seculars' have used the BJP bogey to use Muslims just as a vote bank, - they have used this as a cheap ploy to convince Muslims to vote for them, all the while doing nothing for their (or for that matter, other poor communities') development. BJP has been in power in many states over the years, it's not that Muslims suddenly became 2nd grade citizens in those states. This fear has been artifically created and has led to polarization on both sides...

BJP, of course, is not free from blame - as I mentioned in my last post, it has failed to keep its rabble rousers in check and focus on the development plank... but to say that they're worse or more communal than the others is an exaggeration.

Sadly, in India, all parties play the communal card when it suits them. Congress has played the Christian card in Kerala and North East and the Muslim bogey I talked about above pretty much everywhere else. Left has played it in West Bengal, to the extent that border districts of Bengal have become infested with illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and now Mamta seems to be playing it too....even in the recent Bihar elections, Paswan, the self-proclaimed 'messiah of Dalits and Muslims' used an Osama look-alike for campaigning...

The best way to get out of this is to punish ALL parties who ask for votes in names of religion/caste and vote only on real, development based issues, which Bihar seems to have done this time.

Suds said...

Fully agree with you. BJP should shed the baggage of the past including Ayodhya,rebuild the mosque if required and focus on economics and development. At the same time, we should pursue what is in national interest and not support Iran (when they continously backstab us) or Palestine(Very just cause but supporting them have got us nowhere) just to please the muslims back home.

Anonymous said...

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rashid1891 said...

If he sticks to the BJP, ultimately the communal strain of the BJP will begin to affect his politics as well. So, he should dissociate from the BJP if he is sincere about secularism.