ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Rahul VermaSubscribe to Rahul Verma

Facts and Fiction about How Muslims Vote in India

There is a widely held belief that Muslims in India vote en bloc and strategically to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. This misconception has given rise to several wild theories about how Muslims participate in electoral arena—that they vote in large numbers, their decision of whom to vote for is influenced by clerics, they are more concerned about religious issues while voting, and are less supportive of India’s political institutions. This article presents a body of evidence using public opinion and election returns data from Uttar Pradesh to show that the political and electoral behaviour of Muslims is no different from that of any other major community in the state.

Does Media Exposure Affect Voting Behaviour and Political Preferences in India?

Analysing the National Election Study data from 1996 to 2014, this paper examines the effect of media exposure on Indian elections to reach four main conclusions. First, in the last two decades, Indian electorates have been more exposed to the media than ever before. Second, in the 2014 elections, electorates with higher media exposure were more likely to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Third, voters with higher media exposure were more likely to vote for the BJP in previous Lok Sabha elections as well, and, in that sense, the 2014 elections were no different. Fourth, media exposure influenced the political preferences of people. It also finds that electorates with higher media exposure were more likely to support economic liberalisation, but that it made no difference on social conservatism.

The BJP's 2014 'Modi Wave'

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party put together an unprecedented social coalition: in addition to the upper castes and Other Backward Classes, it received support from the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes. We argue that the BJP built this coalition, in addition to energising its traditional base of social conservatives, by mobilising voters who favour less state intervention in the economy. Narendra Modi's anointment as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate aided this strategy, as Modi is widely perceived to be a socially conservative, pro-market leader. The sclerotic performance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government over the past few years compounded the BJP's own efforts. Though the BJP's support base remains Hindu, upper caste, and Hindi-speaking, these other two factors helped the BJP break the social and geographical barriers necessary to secure an outright Lok Sabha majority.

Dalits Voting Patterns

Data from the National Election Study 2009 for voting patterns among the dalit community across the country indicate that the dalit vote is not homogeneously favourable to any one particular political outfit. Instead the dalit vote is determined by the nature and dynamics of the political party system in constituencies of most states.
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