More than 60 per cent of Indian voters favour the BJP in the general election which is scheduled in April- May. While less than 20 per cent are backing the ruling Congress, a major American survey released and published it. With the Indian parliamentary elections just round the corner, every political party has tightened its belt for the election; the Indian public, by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead the next Indian government rather than the Indian National Congress (INC), which heads the current left-of-centre governing coalition.
The survey, which does not project the number of seats that each party is likely to win, said the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is more popular than Rahul Gandhi, who is leading his Congress party’s struggling campaign. Pew, a Washington-based think tank, interviewed only 2,464 randomly selected voters in states and territories that are home to roughly 91 per cent of the Indian population, between December 7 and January 12. The margin of error is 3.8 per cent. According to the survey, less than a third of Indians are satisfied with the way things are today. The survey said more than six-in-ten Indians prefer the BJP to lead the next government. Just two-in-ten picked the incumbent Congress, which is battling perception of a government mired in corruption scandals and unable to check a sliding economy. Other parties have the support of 12 per cent of the public. The BJP’s backing is consistent across age groups and almost equal between rural (64 per cent) and urban (60 per cent) Indians, the survey found. The northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, together home to more than 400 million, support the BJP most, with 74 per cent saying they preferred the party. The BJP’s weakest backing, around 54 per cent, is in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Mr. Modi’s Gujarat. Nearly 60 per cent voters said the BJP is likely to be more successful than the Congress in creating job opportunities, reducing terrorism and check corruption. The Pew survey said only 17 per cent say Congress would do a better job dealing with graft.
Meanwhile, some astrologers predict that Modi can never be a prime minister of this country as his stars are not in favour. However, BJP and Narendra Modi are not leaving a single stone unturned to make his political rallies a mega success. He kicked off his Lok Sabha campaign in UP with a grand rally in Kanpur. UP is a very crucial state for BJP as it is dominated by BSP and SP. I fail to understand, why did Rajnath Singh emphasise Modi’s OBC caste in Kanpur. Hindutva is supposed to be about Hindus, not castes — no? The seeds of caste politics were sown in 1950s when backward castes used to dominate the political scenario. Ram Manohar Lohia mobilised the backwards and advocated for 60 per cent reservation for Muslims, backward classes and SC/STs. Charan Singh in the 1960s promoted the Jats and the Yadavs. The Mandal panel’s recommendations and its implementation in 1989 gave a new twist to caste politics. Suddenly, many caste-based leaders have emerged from the social churning. The Constitution of India does not talk about caste; it talks only about class. The leaders have included the word ‘caste’ in politics only to garner votes on caste lines — and that has created a divide in society.
In 1996, UP gave the party 52 of the 85 MPs. In 1998, BJP won 57 out of total 80 in its kitty from UP alone. In 1999, the party won only 29 seats with around 25 per cent voteshare from UP. But the loss was offset by the Kargil factor and the sympathy for the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee for having lost the government because of a solitary vote. Since then, the party has languished in the state, and could post a meager tally of 10 seats in last elections. The recommendations of the Mandal Commission and their acceptance by the VP Singh regime led to an explosion of caste-based politics and political parties. The dangerous trend is irreversible, especially in UP. While weaker sections are fed up and slowly drifting away from Congress, minority vote bank is still intact with the party. If roti, kapada, makan and education are given to all which will encourage rational thinking, then who will vote for non-performers?
Congress makes alliance with Indian Union Muslim league at one place and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in another place. It is tying up with another regional party to remain in power and keeps claiming itself as secular. Even parties like BSP and SP are doing the same thing. They join hands with anybody to throw BJP out of power. Narendra Modi’s elevation to lead the party in general elections had led to the estrangement between the BJP and the JD(U) with the latter walking out of the NDA on June 16. Modi launched his crucial UP campaign with a promise to boost growth and employment and by steering clear of the prickly Ram Mandir issue even as he professed commitment to social harmony and fair play. A person born with a golden spoon in his mouth goes to the house of a Dalit family and eats the food cooked by that Dalit. Now, a person from poor business family becomes head of state. For him, people are preparing air conditioned Swiss cottage.
Mayawati always defended caste-based rallies and called these meetings a binding force in society which unites different castes. Her argument was diagonally opposite to what the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court laid out in its order banning caste-based rallies organised by political parties in Uttar Pradesh. She knows that in politics, caste is the one driving force that can catapult a party to power. The BSP has brazenly promoted caste in Uttar Pradesh’s politics for the last two decades or so. It was in the 80s that BSP founder Kanshi Ram declared that he would oust the upper castes from power. He promoted caste rallies and even coined slogans like, ‘Tilak, tarazu aur talwar; inko maaro joote chaar’ — which was a direct and vicious attack on Hindus. The other parties frowned at BSP’s slogans, not realising then that those very slogans would one day fetch power for the BSP. What the BSP does openly, the other parties do clandestinely. Such has been the political pressure that Rahul Gandhi played up the caste affiliation of techie Sam Pitroda at an election rally. He is a Badhai — carpenter, Rahul advocated that the Congress even projected people belonging to lower castes like the Vishwakarmas. In the last two decades, caste politics has played an increasingly crucial role in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats — the highest in the country. There has been a spurt in caste rallies with an eye on the Lok Sabha election due in 2014.The BSP got off the blocks with 38 Brahmin conferences in May-June alone. This culminated in its major Brahmin rally in Lucknow, which was addressed by Mayawati. The BSP also held a series of what it calls Muslim Bhaichara conferences. The ruling Samajwadi Party in the State held a ‘Backward Class Mahasammelan’ in Meerut. The party had also organised a Muslims’ conference and a Brahmin sammelan in the name of Baudhik (intellectual) meet. In the absence of well-defined data, a rough estimate of Uttar Pradesh’s caste combination goes thus: Backward classes comprise 52 per cent (as per the Mandal report), Dalits log up to 18 per cent, Brahmins and Thakurs make up five per cent each, Muslims constitute 17 per cent, while the remaining constitute three per cent of the population. Such was the quest for caste that in its name, all of a sudden, small parties cropped up in Uttar Pradesh. The Kurmis, a backward caste, formed the Apna Dal and even projected Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as a Kurmi neta, taking him down from the pedestal of one of the biggest leaders of this country.
Then the Rajbhars formed the Bharat Samaj Party and the Congress joined hands with the little known Mahan Dal. Sensing the importance of location, BJP’s national president Rajnath Singh said that Modi belongs to a backward and poor background and survived as tea vendor in his early life.