In 2017, The Politics of Aspiration Pips The Caste-Religion Divide

2017 election results have shown that politics of aspiration will take centrestage in India, writes Ratan Sharda.

Honestly, I am sick of experts looking at voters like a flock of sheep and labelling them as Jat, Jatav, Kshatriya, Brahmin, Muslim, Christian, etc.

I have stopped watching the opinion polls being discussed by supposedly knowledgeable talking heads. This includes politicians, so-called intellectuals, and TV editors/anchors who dissect every political or even government policy in terms of caste and religion. It is demeaning to the voters to view them, as I noted above, as sheep that are driven by a certain Mr Yadav or Mr Mishra or Mr Patil etc.

Rising Above Caste-Based Politics

How could the supposedly progressive modern analysts not see anything beyond these caste and religious lines? Caste is a harsh reality but shouldn’t the opinion makers take the lead in helping people get over it? Shouldn’t they help the people cultivate a broader perspective about themselves and their country?

How can anyone divide the Hindu society into castes or play with secular tag when it’s about minorities? Conversely, why are people who talk of a casteless Hindu society as a monolith called communalists?

India has seen voters rising above the caste and faith politics earlier. Recall the 1971 elections and resurrection of Indira Gandhi. Think of the Janata Party’s victory in 1977 and then move towards 2014. Why do our politicians and opinion leaders love to see old equations of caste and minority politics back in active mode?

Is it a sense of comfort with this model? Are our analysts unable to hold discussions about serious issues of development?

Winning Elections on the Promise of Development

The 2014 Lok Sabha election was a watershed moment that was won on the basis of development plank. The Left-Secular-Liberal lobby tried to bring the narrative back to caste, religion etc, by continuously harping on imagined or deliberately fanned fear of the minorities. No doubt, they succeeded in Bihar.

However, even the Bihar success was heavily buttressed by Nitish Kumar’s good governance record. During this period, all other elections were won by parties which promised progressive government across India.

The 2017 election results have proved that although caste and religion is a crucial factor, it can be steamrolled by a higher calling for a better society and genuine progress. It has shown that people are tired of the old methods of pandering to caste and religion. It marked an end to the days of politics of freebies.

Also Read: Who Won, Who Lost? All You Need to Know About State Elections 2017

Politics of Aspiration

So, what do the 2017 elections tell us?

They tell us that people have latched onto a new form of politics – the politics of aspirations, the politics of development, the politics of national identity that inspires us to rise above caste and faith. The old politics of disruption is dead. As a commentator on a Hindi channel put it: “Voters want to ride the Rajdhani Express but the politicians are riding on bullock carts and tractors”.

The people are looking for a positive agenda, and not a negative, disruptive agenda of sustained opposition. These elections tell us that people will not be carried away by manufactured controversies of intolerance and questions about their nation and nationhood.

People are willing to give a chance to new politicians and new policies, but will prove to be unsparing if they are taken for a ride. New voters have no patience, a far cry from their elders, who believed in fate and their ‘mai-baap’ netas.

The voters have abandoned the feudal mindset. The political heavyweights that were rejected this election season are proof.

People are no longer apologetic and cannot be forced to feel guilty just because they happen to belong to the majority community. Unlike other civilisations, India’s Hindu civilisation is not intolerant and doesn’t accord secondary status to those belonging to other faiths.

They have now understood that as long as there is a democratic space for all citizens irrespective of caste, creed and faith, they have a right to elect the kind of government they want. They have realised that minority based politics is worse than majoritarian politics. India is truly a republic of faith and shaming its citizens will backfire.

Misconception Spread by Media

These elections have once again shown that people are no longer listening to the electronic media or allowing it to manipulate their world view. Newspapers have lost their credibility too, as shown by recent poll surveys. This is a global phenomenon now. Social media, which was meant to increase social interaction at one point of time, has become a medium of news and people trust it despite false news and misinformation going viral many times.

The failure of the mainstream media to disseminate news in an objective manner has seen the rise of social media as an alternative.

While these elections have established the way the citizens of India see themselves, their nationhood and their expectations, it appears as though the lobby comprising the Left-secular-Maoist forces have not been able to reconcile themselves to this new reality.

What to Expect in The Future

In the days to come, I look forward to more cycles of disturbances and controversies – small issues being blown out of proportion or manufactured rows. Their efforts at defaming the security forces will not cease. I would hazard a guess of at least two more cycles of noisy controversies, that are ably supported by the illiberal section of media, before next year’s upcoming state elections. Two targets would be Gujarat and Karnataka.

Violent Maoism-Leninism is being masqueraded as Neo-Left in an urban landscape in order to aid the violent overthrow of democratic polity. This is active in the garb of cultural studies and Dalit-minority politics. It’s being promoted across the campuses and has been nurtured over the last seven decades. It is a threat that needs to tackled intelligently by the non-left and truly liberal democrats of this country. It is clear that these ‘Breaking’ forces will not succeed.

(The author is an RSS ideologue. He can be reached @RatanSharda55. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

Also Read: 8 Reasons Why BJP Won An Unprecedented Mandate In Uttar Pradesh