Political Parties and Minority Voters in India

03.08.13
Al JazeeraAl Jazeera
World News /08 Mar 2013
03.08.13

Political Parties and Minority Voters in India

Votebank politics is the pitfall of democratic systems around the world. In essence, votebank politics is the practice of loyalists supporting certain candidates of a certain party. Votebank politics varies depending on the diversity of a country and India, as one of the most diverse countries in the world, is the largest playground for votebank politics. India is heavily populated with minority groups and Indian politicians are champions of votebank politics. A politician living in a remote village of India is busy building his own votebank to secure his way up to the higher level of politics at the expense of the welfare of his own people.

Votebank politics is based on divisive policies, which the Congress party inherited from India’s former colonial rulers who used this practice to remain in power perpetually. For example, the Congress party attracted the largest minority in India, Muslim voters, by appointing and promoting Muslim politicians to different positions. These handpicked politicians are neither representatives nor leaders of their community, they are just politicians handpicked by the elites.

The Congress party maintained its monopoly for many years, but lost the support of voters in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the late 1970s. Voters in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar deserted the Congress party after reports surfaced of forced sterilization of Muslim men during 18 months of emergency rule imposed by the Congress party government.

Some Muslim voters turned to Samajwadi Party (SP) and some joined Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar they supported Rastriy Janta Dal (RJD). These parties also used votebank politics by appointing and promoting Muslim politicians.

Indian politics have changed over the past decades. New generations of political leaders have emerged, but the status of Muslims in India remains virtually unchanged. The Muslim community in India has not actualized any perceptible improvement as the largest minority in the country.

Progress in the fields of sports, entertainment and, to some extent, in education is the result of individual talent, efforts, and support from private organizations. The government’s contribution to these individual successes is zero. The level of education is consistently low in the Muslim community, especially among the female population, and there is no sign of decline in crime and poverty. Majorities of the people work for low paying jobs and live in destitute conditions.

It is time for minorities to become part of the mainstream population of India. The purpose of democratic system is to stimulate competition, increase prosperity and improve standards of living. Political parties playing votebank politics generously dispense freebees to minorities for their votes, but, it is very important for the people to understand that every benefit has its cost.

These donated benefits make them and their future generation barren, less motivated, uncompetitive and, eventually, permanently dependent on government handouts. In a democratic system, most people make their own choices and they flourish and prosper. However, there are people who don’t mind being the victims of votebank politics, and this is the second biggest pitfall of democratic system.

  • Photo illustration by John Lyman

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