It is a fact that religion and caste-based politics dominate the Indian elections and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) never shied away from playing the religious and caste card from the selection of the candidates to the elections. Around 80 million first-time voters, between the ages of 18-21, will be casting their votes in the general elections this year and they will decide the fate of the nation for sure and a new chapter will be added to the history of Indian elections. However, what matters the most is that will they be going to vote based on religion, castes, and region or based on the performance this ruling government and the answer will make sure if the first-time voters contribute to making or breaking the nation.
Religions play a very crucial role in bringing mandate to the political parties in India and political parties as well since the country got independence from the British, have been using the same with full zeal for their political gain and also have been successful most of the time. In our country, religions bring more votes than development, that’s why even after 73 years of being independence – we deal with great poverty, lack of facilities in hospitals that caused the death of lakh of recently born and unborn child, lack of good educational institutions, lack of roads, electricity, and even very basic needs of daily life.
Even after having his image controversial in the past and accused of initiating and leading the 2002 Gujarat riots that caused the death of more than thousands of people – of which most were Muslims – PM Modi succeeded in projecting himself as the only Messiah of country’s development through his political campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and eventually he retained the power in 2014 as the anti-incumbent sentiments against the Congress-led coalition was rampant as a result of corruptions, accusations, and a downward drift in the governance. Moreover, Modi managed to play with the emotions of the Indians by promising so many things.
Once he got into power, he changed the image that he had created of himself before the voters. In the last five years, the Modi-led government has turned a blind eye on the attacks of religious minorities and Dalits by fringe groups. As per the data from IndiaSpend – which tracks down the news of violence in English language media — the reports of religion-based hate crimes mainly targeting Muslims have spiked significantly after 2014. Modi, instead of taking action against these cases, kept silence and indirectly promoted these kinds of communal-based violence against religious minorities as he believes that hitting at the Hindu sentiments would bring him to mandate, and in the end, he was right as he has become a brand now. Sectarian politics made him more popular across the nation and his party won the elections in Uttar Pradesh and formed the government.
However, the shining of the BJP started to diminish after the Demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) – as both of the decisions by the government hurt, disturbed and dragged the whole nation into crisis. This might affect Modi in the upcoming elections. Moreover, Modi is well aware of everything and knows all the nuances to use at the right time and place. Since the time his image started diminishing, he brought the Indian Armed Forces’ issue at the front and shouted like a lion against Pakistan and he failed; he brought the Ram Mandir issue and claimed to build a grand Ram Mandir by making a new ordinance but failed again! Then he brought an action for cow protection and faced defeat again; apart from all these, he has also used Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi, etc. In the last two years, he has tried play with every possible communal subject impress the voters but was exposed at the end and is now in the silence and might be looking for something more powerful than the mentioned issue that he can use.
Babri Masjid was demolished in religious violence in 1992. In the Lok Sabha elections of 1984, the BJP got only two seats. However, by following the campaign, the BJP won 85 seats and then it continued to increase its political base. It won 119 seats in 1991 and 182 seats in 1998. It got 182 seats in 1999. Following the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, though the BJP lost seats and this was an indication that the secular Hindus had rejected the BJP for what had happened in Gujarat.
Muslims and Hindus have lived in India together for centuries, however, religious sentiments are exploited either to divert the attention of the people from the very important issue or as means of polarising the vote bank. All in all BJP’s ultimate ambition is to get the 80 per cent of the country’s total votes which are of Hindus and it will do it by using the Hindutva ideology. In the end, it will again bring the Ram Mandir dispute at the front – and even may be this time it will start the construction of the Mandir – even the base.
Hindutva is a political ideology which is associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – a right-wing Hindu nationalist group. With the gradual rise of the BJP in national politics, this ideology has also gained popularity over the years through BJP, which is the political offshoot of the RSS. The Hindutva was coined in 1924 by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar – who fought for India’s freedom from India and also advocated the Hindu Nationalism.
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