Feb 27, 2007

The Punjab Poll Signals

The Consolidation of the Hindu Vote Bank

The results are in for the latest round of state elections and if they are any indication then the silent consolidation of the Hindu vote bank in favour of the BJP is very much on. With state elections still to be held in UP, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Municipal elections in Delhi, this consolidation is only going to consolidate further.

It started with BJP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh Municipal elections where the BJP won the majority of the municipalities. This was dismissed as a one-time phenomenon because the BSP didn’t contest and as a result of this the urban upper-castes and Dalits voted for the BJP.

After this, in the Maharashtra Municipal elections, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine was voted back to power in the BMC polls. The BMC results were dismissed as another one-time phenomenon and nothing to be bothered about because
Marathi voters had voted according to BMC traditions.

But can the signals emanating from the urban Hindu voters of Punjab who have in fact saved the Akali-BJP combine from sitting in the opposition once again by voting solidly for the BJP be dismissed again as an one-time phenomenon? The outgoing CM of Punjab Capt. Amarinder Singh is completely baffled by the choice of Punjab’s urban voters for whom his govt. as he claims, has done lot.

Why have urban Hindu voters of Punjab rejected the Congress despite the Congress govt doing a lot for them? Are the Congress’s socio-communal policies the reason? Are the Congress-led UPA’s unscientific reservation policies favouring OBCs and their single-point agenda of appeasing the Muslims at any cost silently working in favour of consolidating the Hindu vote bank benefiting the BJP? In my opinion this is the case because logically shouldn’t an affluent Hindu vote-bank vote for the Congress if they had benefited from the economic policies of the state Congress govt.? By rejecting the Congress and voting solidly for the BJP (BJP won 19 of the 23 seats they contested), urban Hindu voters have again unambiguously signalled that they are against the socio-communal policies of the Congress-led UPA govt. at the Center. This is further corroborated by the fact that the Punjab’s rural voters who are mainly Sikhs traditionally voting for the Akalis this time have voted for the Congress in large numbers.

This conclusion can also be credited to some extend apart from price rise and anti-incumbency for the Congress debacle in a fast industrialising Uttarakhand with a solid upper-caste Hindu vote bank that has traditionally backed the BJP from the mid 1980s.

The Congress has used the Muslim minority only as a vote bank by pandering to the whims and fancies of their Mullahs. They knew from the start once you satisfy the Mullah the vote bank was theirs. This is why we saw the Haj subsidy, overturning of the Shah Bano judgment, etc and nothing specific to uplift the community. In 1992 if PVN had pandered to the Mullahs by dismissing the BJP govt headed by Kalyan Singh and thus saved the Babri Masjid, today the Muslim vote bank would have been solidly behind the Congress come what may. It is because of the ability of the Muslim vote bank to vote en bloc, the Congress is trying assiduously to woo them back in the form of reservations, implementation of Sachar report, delaying Afzal’s execution, vacillating on Islamist terror, etc and not because of any newfound love for them. Unfortunately the Congress is yet to understand the Muslim psyche which is never forgive and never forget. If the way the Muslims of Mumbai voted in the BMC polls is any indication - en bloc for the Samajwadi Party candidates – then the Congress is yet to get it.

The next big signal on the consolidation of the urban Hindu votes in BJP’s favour will be the Delhi Municipal elections later this year. With the Congress state govt. committing near harakiri with its Delhi Master Plan, it is only a matter of time before Delhi has a BJP govt.

This madness of the Congress party is paying rich dividends to the BJP. If this continues BJP can have its cake and eat it too. In other words the BJP’s return to power at the center in 2009 or sooner - with a little or no help from friends and no toil - is a foregone conclusion.

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