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Polarisation Politics

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UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘twenty percent vote for SP and eighty percent for BJP’ comment has attracted allegations of being communal and promoting polarisation between Hindus and Muslims. Congress leader Digvijay Singh, ever eager to establish his secular credentials, has demanded that a complaint be made to the Election Commission. The opposition seems willing to fall into every such trap set for it by the BJP, which wants nothing more than to show the people the single-minded obsession that the SP, Congress and others have with Muslims as a consolidated vote bank. Yogi’s followers point out that the Samajwadi Party had got around 22 % votes in the last election, which could just have been the subject of the CM’s comment. It was for the listeners’ to decide what to make of it. The more communal the mindset, the more inclined one would be to perceive it as a mention of Muslims.

This is exactly the challenge for the Muslims. They are just as much seen to be a ghettoized minority by their supposed supporters as those supposedly against them – in fact more. This is what Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM wants to emphasise while taking on the ‘secular’ parties in their traditional bastions. The Muslims get very little in return for the political support they extend. They are made to feel content with just the assurance of the wolves having been kept from their doors. Their requirements as doctors, engineers, businesspersons, farmers, daily wagers, et al, which would be similar to their neighbours of other communities, are entirely overlooked.

CM Yogi has repeatedly pointed out that all the numerous programmes of his party have been for all – individuals from all communities have benefited. The BJP’s demand for votes is on this basis. If this approach does not suit the community, perhaps it should accept Owaisi’s transactional approach. The animosity for ‘saffron’, so carefully cultivated by the nominally secular, should no longer be the political driving force. The decision on support should be based on important issues such as development, law and order, employment, etc. If the performance of former CMs like Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati has been better, the people should vote accordingly. Parties based almost entirely on caste identity are more likely to plan in terms of consolidated vote banks, rather than the people of UP as a whole. They should not then complain about ‘polarisation’.