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UP all set to witness an ugly communal vote bank politics in the run up to 2017 assembly polls
Recently, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav again recalled police firing on Karsevaks during 1990. He expressed grief over the death of 16 people. However, he also made it clear that he could have gone for more firing (deaths), in case it was required, to protect the Babri Masjid to ensure nation's unity.

Technically, the 1990 police firing should be viewed as a matter of law and order. It should have been forgotten as an unfortunate incident. When people for whatever reasons die, it's always unfortunate.

But, Mulayam Singh recalls that incident repeatedly and interestingly purposefully. He had recalled it during 2013 in the run up to general elections, in 2014 when bye-elections in UP took place, in January 2016 and now in August 2016, both with an eye on upcoming 2017 UP elections. The message is very simple and clear. Mulayam Singh can go to any extent to protect Muslim community. The indirect message is that SP is saviour of minority community from the possible threats coming from the majority community. People say it is minority (Muslim) vote bank politics.

Other parties also jumped in after Mulayam's statement. BJP took it seriously blaming SP of playing communal politics. Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which is desperately searching space in Muslim politics, also hopped into the issue.

BSP started counting incidents like Muzaffarnagar riots to prove that it's better saviour of Muslims than SP and others. Congress is already in to this politics.

What communal politics is? It's a politics which polarises communities (and confront against each other). Such politics can't be played single handedly. There must be two side to it. There are people who calls BJP a communal party because it talks about Hindus. But the self-claimed secular industry too is communal because it talks about only minority (read Muslim).

In fact, they have changed the definition of secularism in the Indian political context that anything related to minority community is secular and anything related to majority community is communal. RSS is communal whereas Muslim League is secular. Sadhvi Prachi is communal whereas Sahi Imam is secular. The list is endless.

Thus it can be imagined now on what pitch the UP elections will be contested. Well there would be talks of development, social justice, law and order, upliftment of oppressed section, women empowerment etc. But every party's focus will be centered on polarising and dividing the people across religion, caste and other dangerous lines. No political party will be exceptional in this art.

But, there's a third dimension to such communal or vote bank politics. It's the people and their foolishness. The politicians know that Indian voters can be fooled easily by provoking their sentiments. Do some politics in the line of religion and caste identifying sections as victims, people will start rallying behind the parties or individuals depending upon who displayed better art of sentimental provoking. During such rallying people will forget inefficiencies, corruptions, criminalities and other failures of all the political parties. The tense voter shall only see who's his friend and foe in the context of religion, cast, creed etc.

A friend asked, when people will stop being fooled by the trickery of the political tactic. My simple answer is, when people will start seeing through the opportunistic game plan of such vested vote bank politics. The next question was, whether people have started seeing through such politics. My answer was yes. In Odisha, there is no vote bank politics for last 10 years. Perform or perish is the only criteria.

Third question to me was, whether people in UP had ever displayed ballot box wisdom and will they reject such vote bank politics? My answer is, yes, people in UP displayed their wisdom in 2014 general elections because they voted for development and rejected all vote bank politics.

Regarding 2017 elections, I am not sure, because assembly election is purely a different ball game. The final question to me was, 'Do you think people voting BJP means they are rejecting vote bank politics?'

I always expected this question because BJP had won 71 seats (NDA-73 seats) out of 80 seats in 2014 general elections and my friend considers me as a bhakta (which I am not). Thus I answered negatively. Kalyan Singh's government came to power in UP through vote bank politics (counter polarisation).

Similarly, in 2002, Gujarat election was won by the BJP (under Narendra Modi) through vote bank politics (counter polarisation). There are several examples where vote bank politics also made BJP to win elections. But then subsequent elections in Gujarat and MP were won by development politics.

The same is applicable to Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka assembly elections where parties won while banking upon development politics. The recently concluded elections in Bihar, Assam, West Bengal etc were contested on development politics and people voted for development only.

I have no expectations from political parties that they will reject communal or vote bank politics during 2017 Up polls. I can only wish that people reject such politics. But then UP is very different in political sense. We can only hope that there shouldn't be bitter polarisation that only causes serious damage to public interest.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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