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Harsh truth about polarization

Harsh truth about  polarization
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Polarization is the buzzword doing the rounds in political circles at the moment. This envisages an electoral confrontation between the broadly...

Polarization is the buzzword doing the rounds in political circles at the moment. This envisages an electoral confrontation between the broadly secular groupings and the far-right forces in the run-up to the 2014 general election. In a more direct and cruder way, the concept is based on the surmise that the upcoming decisive battles would be fought and won between the Hindutva forces (the BJP and allies) and the moderates (the Congress and other non-BJP elements).

The premise as such is flawed per se, repugnant to the very essence of what we have learnt over the six decades from our electoral experience. What is particularly disturbing about it is the presupposition of the majority community voting en bloc for the far right, making all others redundant in the coming electoral contests in and doing away with any kind of dependence on other voting blocs: the Muslims, other social groupings, communities and castes, to be more specific.

Should things work out the way advocates of polarization envisage, it will virtually be the end of the road for the practices and principles that have paved the way for the healthy growth of democratic values. The idea of polarization seems to have the particular blessings of pressure groups, lobbyists and the corporate media revolving round Gujarat's Narendra Modi as the best choice for Prime Ministership as Vikas Purush (development man) and for his strong leadership.

One need not concern oneself with the internal goings-on of political parties; yet, the logic put forward in Modi's case deserves closer scrutiny. The proposition as such has its own inherent contradictions: vikas or development has to be all-inclusive and hence development through polarization is an oxymoron. Union Minister Rehman Khan does have a point when he goes public by declaring that 200 million Muslims would oppose Modi's elevation at the hustings.

Even otherwise, the idea of communal-based polarization strikes a jarring note in the prevalent democratic atmosphere. Also, it is unfair to the electoral sense of the people irrespective of whether they belong to the majority community or the minority groups. Even if vote bank politics has played a decisive and crucial role in the elections, it left no trail of social disharmony or mutual discord afterwards.

The voting pattern of different communities and groups has neither been uniform nor monolithic. At one time, the Congress Party was the favourite of the minorities and weaker sections due to convergence of interests (Brahmins, Muslims and Dalits). The balance later shifted towards regional groupings, leading to rise of Dalits and OBCs in formidable forms. This led to the emergence of the SP, BSP, JD in different forms in Bihar and Karnataka, Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, etc., in a big way over time.

The idea of polarization has many pitfalls. Its underlying premise aims at establishing majoritarian regime over the accepted norms of democratic polity leading to a situation of overall political flux. Amid the muddle and wrangling have emerged the contours of a third alternative, even if haltingly.

What enriched the country's democratic tradition is its innate flexibility making it a fascinating, inclusive and participatory experience. Moreover, the option of polarization has been open from the inception but only to be rejected, not by the minorities alone but also rather overwhelmingly by the majority community as well. A lesson to remember.

What is particularly disturbing about it is the presupposition of the majority community voting en bloc for the far right, making all others redundant in the coming electoral contests and doing away with any kind of dependence on other voting blocs: the Muslims, other social groupings, communities and castes, to be more specific

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