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Shift Right


Although it is early days yet, the usual fireworks are missing in the ongoing session of Parliament. One reason for this could be the dilution of ideological differences, with the Congress and NCP planning a tie-up with the Hindutva hardline Shiv Sena. It would seem that the long held pretence of a ‘secular’ politics that ‘defended’ minority rights, particularly those of Muslims, has been abandoned as worthless in the battle for votes. It would seem that ‘majoritarian’ concerns will now be the message communicated by most political parties. This becomes even more evident with the much publicised spat between West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi of Hyderabad, basically drawing a line between good and inconvenient Muslim causes. The only heat being witnessed is on the issue of withdrawing SPG cover for the Congress first family. Is this good for Indian democracy? It is certainly not good news for the BJP, which would like nothing better than a continuing Hindu disillusionment with the other mainstream parties. Added to this is the growing ability of the Indian voter to distinguish between state and national level elections. This has allowed the nationally atrophied Congress to recover in important states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. As such, it is willing to bide its time till the mood changes, overall. It also knows that, while the Shiv Sena could move over to the ‘secular’ camp, the minorities are unlikely to go with the BJP in the foreseeable future. In fact, the Muslims, in particular, may need to reconsider this stance towards the BJP, if they wish to recover their pole position in electoral politics. Ironically, the resolution of the Ayodhya Temple may have served to take the edge off the Hindutva campaign, as one major grievance has been removed. It will be difficult for the BJP to obtain support on local and regional issues purely on its ‘communal’ card as a result. It does not seem that the amended Citizenship Act or the NRC will evoke much of a response because of the impracticalities involved. The only effective card it will have left is the personal popularity of the Prime Minister. As already visible in Parliament, the situation will provide greater space for what may be described as ‘development politics’. The resolution of important issues such as the crises in the banking, telecom, agriculture and manufacturing sectors will rightly become the primary focus. The government’s performance over the next couple of years will be judged on this basis – unless some foolish act, once again, revives the Hindus’ sense of insecurity.