Hindu Vote Bank-The Need and Rationale

published on April 28, 2007

By Shri Yogesh Kumar Saxena


 


Those Hindu authorities who have credibility with the Hindu masses, have to appeal to them to vote for a party that adopts and openly advocates a pre- approved. Hindu Agenda. Hindus can no more allow their vote to be fractured because Hindus as a whole are under siege.


 


 For example,


 


500,000 Hindus were driven out of Kashmir for no other reason except that they are Hindus, even if in a nation of 83 per cent Hindus


 


Kanchi Shankaracharya was jailed on a bogus case for no other reason except that the Chief Minister wanted to curry favour with the Vatican disregarding the individual sentiments of 91 per cent Hindus of Tamil Nadu


 


 Ramlila cannot be celebrated in Mau (UP) because the Muslim MP of the Muslim majority area finds it an affront to Islam.


 


Muslims are subsidised for travel abroad for Haj, but Hindus going to Kailash in Tibet are not.


 


Hindu temples are taken over by the government and it’s hundi funds are given to Muslims and Christians to build mosques and churches. But mosques and churches cannot be similiarly treated.


 


Darul Islam has been introduced in pockets of the country, in whichever pocket where Muslims are in majority?thus Shariat has been adopted by the J&K Assembly


 


North-east has undergone an enforced demographic change in favour of Muslims and Christians to help consolidate the minority vote bank and obtain a sanctuary.


 


Forcible conversions are being carried out in Thondi (Ramnathapuram District), Melvisharam (Vellore) and 39 other town panchyats in Tamil Nadu.


 


The proven 1,72,000 years old Treta Yuga Rama Setu can be bull-dozed but a defunct mosque in Ayodhya cannot be touched.


 


The list of atrocities against Hindus, just because they are Hindus, is endless.


 


In Abroad too,For eg:


 


Temples are being demolished in Malaysia, Kazakhastan, and Russia.


 


Hindus have been decimated in Bangla Desh, the nation we liberated with our jawans’ blood.


 


 Hindus are regularly deported from Saudi Arabia because they choose to pray to Hindu gods within their own homes.


Such is the impotence of 83 per cent of India against just 15 per cent of Muslims and Christians in the country, and of a nation claiming to be an emerging super power in the world.   


 


We have had in the past Hindu-minded leaders in power e.g., Morarji Desai, Lal Bahadur Shastri, even Indira Gandhi. But they could do little for the Hindu community because they did not come to power on the Hindu vote bank. Those Hindus who voted for them to power did so, on issues such as political stability or garibi hatao.


 


But the Muslims and Christians who voted for them did so only because these leaders would not disturb their religious practices such as in civil code, inheritance laws, freedom to convert etc.. Muslims and Christians voted as a national vote-bank while vote of Hindus was fractured, Hindus perceived no threat to their religion nor felt any need for state-sponsoring of Hindu consolidation. Thus Hindus were content with wallowing in past practices of caste, regionalism, and linguistic chauvinism and remain divided. They voted on that basis.

The short answer to the question is that we must make it happen (i.e., create a Hindu vote bank) to rescue the nation from the quicksand it is in. Hindus are under a siege today from terrorism, religious conversion, state sponsored demolition of Hindu icons, and rubbishing of our hoary history in school and college textbooks.

The Indian nation, as the world knows it, is a nation of a live and unbroken Hindu civilization. That is India’s distinctiveness today. Otherwise we would be a nation much like Greece, Egypt, and Iraq. Their past glory is in the museums and art galleries, and not visible in the daily life of the people. Pakistan has this problem too because they would like to claim the ancient Indus Valley civilization, e.g., Mohendajaro, Harappa, Taxila as their own, but to do that Pakistanis will have to acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus, which acknowledgement would undermine their fragile nationhood.

How to put an end to this defacto dhimmi status of Hindus ? There are three things that have to be done first,


 


1) There must be a party or a front that seeks votes on the issue of restoring Hindus their due place in the destiny of the nation. That means advocating that India must be known as a nation of Hindus, and those who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus. That is, India is a Hindu Rashtra and to be known as Hindustan. This inclusive concept of Hindu Rashtra would enable Muslims and Christians to join Hindus by snapping their connection with the nation’s brief demeaning past of thousand years when Muslim and Christian aggressors from abroad heaped untold and unprintable atrocities on the Hindus. Thus, those who identify themselves with Ghazni, Ghori, or Clive have no place in Hindustan.   Accepting Hindu Rashtra will not mean that they must disown their religion, which in any case no genuine Hindu will ever insist on, but it will open the way for those Muslims and Christians who want to return to the Hindu fold, the religion of their ancestors. Being Hindustani will mean learning the true history of India-that of a nation of mostly indigenous people who rose to great and unprecedented heights in wealth, science and spirituality, but retrograded for a period due to lack of unity and decadence. But at the same time they never capitulated to foreign oppressors. From Udaipur to Hampi to Raigarh to Tirunelveli to Jhansi to Kohima, Hindu icons kept fighting preferring to die than capitulate. 


 
2) Those Hindu authorities who have credibility with the Hindu masses, have to appeal to them to vote for a party that adopts and openly advocates a pre-approved Hindu Agenda. Two such authorities in today’s circumstances are obvious:


 


 [a] the RSS and it’s affiliates which have undisputed and demonstrated national organisations and proven capacity to mobilize the Hindus. Both the Prayag VHP conference [February 10 to 13] and the RSS organised Guruji Centenary Celebration [February 18] should affirm this fact.


 


[b] The Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha launched by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati with the support of all Jagadguru Shankaracharyas, most mahaman-daleshwars, and peethadhipatis. Swamiji has already made the acharyas adopt a ‘Tirupati Declaration’ which in effect states that the Hindu dharmacharyas will come out their ashrams and mobilise the people to consolidate the Hindu vote ‘since the Hindu vote is sacred’. According to this Declaration, this vote will not be cast for those who work against the Hindu religion. 


 


 3) The Hindu vote bank need target only forty per cent of the 83 per cent Hindus to achieve an absolute majority in Parliament and Legislatures. Fifty per cent of the 83 per cent will enable a two-thirds majority. This fact is important because there are Hindus who lack the required mindset to bond with other Hindus in collective action. They suffer from the pre-Gita Arjuna disease, as Swami Chinmayananda termed it, of nagging doubts and searching for excuses to run away. There are other Hindus who would like to be elected on the Hindu vote but wish to guard their secular and international image. They equivocate and can betray the mandate of Hindus. This is what Guruji said of those who may have vyaktigat charitra but were of no use to the Hindu cause because they lacked rashtriya charitra. We do not need these people in the vote bank since they will dilute the mandate if included. We need those who have no reservation about being a virat Hindu. Lest the consolidation of Hindu vote be thought of as a diabolical plot of the upper castes to keep their alleged hegemony on Hindu society, effort should be made to co-opt scheduled castes and backward Hindu communities in the vanguard of the leadership of the Hindu vote bank. If encouraged by the Acharyas, then they can be in the forefront of the Hindu movement. The Valmikis in Meerut and the Kurmis in East UP have already demonstrated their capacity to defend Hindus when others were afraid to do so.

Thus the nation needs a Hindu vote bank, as VHP called for in Prayag, and it is the duty of all patriotic Hindus to mobilise for it to come about. We need, therefore, a Hindu-minded government to set things right. It will not suffice to form a government of Hindus. We have seen that in the past. Moreover, we must ensure that a government formed by a Hindu vote bank in the future does not fritter away the mandate because of personal reasons or advancement. The Hindu-minded leaders thus elected should be clean and unafraid to implement a Hindu agenda without being apologetic, and without procrastination. Such a wobbly Hindu leadership will be worse for the cause than pseudo-seculars in power The only way of forging a unified ‘Hindu vote’ is by crafting a pan-Hindu agenda that will subsume caste identities and regional aspirations. In other words, there is need for an over-arching agenda that is free of identity politics in its narrowest sense


 


 Many years ago, on the eve of the 1996 general election, while flying from Lucknow to Delhi after accompanying a senior BJP leader on a hectic campaign tour, I had made bold to ask him, “Do you think the Hindu vote will consolidate in favour of your party this time?”   The question was prompted by the results of the post-December 6, 1992 elections. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had been evicted from power, as also in Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The Ayodhya magic, it would seem, had begun to wear off pretty fast. Or is it that the BJP had failed to canalise Hindu votes?   After a long silence, the BJP leader came up with his answer: “You see, the fact is that ours is a Hindu party, but we are unable to aggressively campaign from a Hindu platform. How can we pretend to be all things to all people and yet chase the Hindu vote?”  In the event, the BJP came to power for 13 days in 1996 and had to wait for another two years before it could take charge of the Union Government at the head of a disparate coalition called the National Democratic Alliance whose members had nothing in common on ideological issues but were keen to share power.   A decade after that mid-flight conversation, I think the BJP still finds itself caught in the same conundrum. If it were to aggressively canvass for Hindu votes from a Hindu platform, it would find its allies denouncing it. If it tries to tread the slippery path that it followed before and during the 2004 general election, waving certificates of endorsement from charlatans like the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, it can look forward to warming the Opposition benches for years to come. 


 


There is, however, a countervailing point of view which is linked to the question: Is there a Hindu vote for the BJP to chase? The answer is pegged to possible definitions of a Hindu vote. Is it defined by the religion of the voter? If so, then in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, the Marxists’ base is predominantly and overwhelmingly Hindu. Or is it defined by Hindu social, cultural and political aspirations?   If the second definition is more appropriate, which I believe it is, then perhaps we should look at the possibility of forging a nationalist vote (Nirad C Chaudhuri insisted that those born on this side of the Sindhu are ‘Hindus’) and harvesting it during elections. But even if this were to be   a more correct interpretation of what is referred to as the ‘Hindu vote’, we cannot ignore social and political realities as they prevail today.  For instance, Hindu society is severely fractured along caste lines today as never before. To deny this would be to turn our face away from the truth. Worse, the identity politics of caste have become enmeshed with politics of regionalism. Hence, we have parties like the DMK, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Lok Janashakti Party dovetailing regionalism with casteism, and thus concocting a heady cocktail.

What has worsened the situation is the attempt by the national parties, namely the BJP and the Congress, to join the game of competitive caste politics and thus widening the fissures in Hindu society, pitting caste against caste. The OBC quota in higher education introduced by the Congress and the BJP’s unqualified support for it is an example.   What has happened, therefore, is that the ‘Hindu vote’ defined by Hindu aspirations has been fragmented into caste votes the tribal vote, the Dalit vote, the OBC vote and the forward caste vote none of which is strong enough to prop up a Government on its own, at least at the Centre. Some would suggest that this fragmentation is near-purposeful with the intention of preventing a consolidation of the larger ‘Hindu vote’. The only way of forging a unified ‘Hindu vote’ is by crafting a pan-Hindu agenda that will subsume caste identities and regional aspirations. In other words, there is need for an over-arching agenda that is free of identity politics in its narrowest sense.



As BJP president, was able to craft an over-arching agenda by bringing together three issues that defined and perhaps still define the core of Hindu concerns: The Ram temple dispute in Ayodhya, the need for a Uniform Civil Code and the necessity of abrogating Article 370. The results were stupendous; even Hindus who vote for the CPI(M) in West Bengal were tantalised by the possibilities of emergent Hindu political power. But a decade and later, Hindu concerns have shifted and it would be self-defeating to expect similar results from the same agenda. An entire generation has grown up and come of voting age since 1996 and is not necessarily charged by the ideas that motivated voters and mobilised mass support for the BJP during the height of the Ayodhya movement. Young India, overwhelmingly Hindu and rapidly moving towards conservative values even while keeping pace with modernism, is driven by the idea of Rising India. I would posit that a new definition of the ‘Hindu vote’ must perforce factor in this idea whose contours are essentially, though not entirely, economic. An over-arching agenda relevant in today’s context would, thus, necessarily have to be crafted from social, economic and political aspirations that are directly linked to the idea of Rising India.

If a ‘Hindu vote’ were to be forged today, it would have to be by identifying these aspirations, listing them by order of priority and crafting an agenda that promotes them unabashedly. Be it free market economics, which is being increasingly seen as beneficial for the masses, or rapid liberalisation, which is perceived to be consumer-friendly, we cannot shy away and remain tied to conventional wisdom of the past.      There are other issues, too. For instance, Young India is hungry for accelerated infrastructure and social development; it is tired of tokenism and hollow sloganeering, as it is tired of hackneyed ideas which politicians, including, and this must be stated with full emphasis, those in the BJP, believe are an easy route to votes, and thus to power.  

For evidence, look at the remarkable manner in which Mr Narendra Modi has built up a huge Hindu vote-bank, representing Hindu social, cultural and political aspirations that form the foundation of the idea of Rising India, in Gujarat. He has achieved this not by pandering to crass majoritarianism, as claimed by his critics, but by focussing on development. And ensuring security without which growth and development can prove to be meaningless.


 


A last point. At this year’s Vishwa Hindu Sangam in Prayag, three resolutions were adopted to motivate Hindu activists into working for the creation of a ‘Hindu vote-bank’ for the Hindu nation, Hindu unity and social harmony. The underlying theme of each of these resolutions was the need to obliterate social divisions of caste and put an end to obnoxious practices like barring Dalits from entering temples. Or importantly, and remarkably so, development was linked to dignity.


 


Which brings us to where we began. Is there a ‘Hindu vote’? I would say, yes there is a ‘Hindu vote’, which, at present, is an aggregate of caste votes. Can this be forged into a larger ‘Hindu vote’, and thus a ‘Hindu vote-bank’? Yes, it is possible to achieve this goal but only if there is concerted action at two levels.


 


First, a movement to unify Hindu communities tribals, Dalits, OBCs and forward castesthrough a vigorous social harmony campaign.


 


And, second, by distilling Young India’s ‘Hindu’, and therefore nationalist, aspirations into a political agenda.


 


 For that, of course, we require forward-thinking, forward-moving leaders who can break free of the shackles and shibboleths of the past. Which by itself is a tall order.


 


 


(Author is Advocate, High Court, Allahabad, State President  Bharatiya Jansangh, Chairman / Special Officer Ganga Pollution Matter, vice president Geeta Ashram RishiKesh, Coordinator and Patron of Hind Kishan Majdoor party and Rastriya Samanta Dal)

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