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

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Communal Riots in Uttar Pradesh

After the 1990s, communal incidents in India have spread to rural areas, and they occur on a smaller scale, but with much larger frequency. In this strategy, the making of a communal consciousness requires a string of communal moments that produce and reproduce communal polarisation directly and indirectly. The Bharatiya Janata Party, backed by the cadres of the Sangh Parivar, holds an advantage in this communal game in Uttar Pradesh, while the other parties are forced to play it for fear of further losing their voter base. Post-election communal clashes in UP have occurred around constituencies going for assembly by-polls soon. This trend is only going to harden by the time the assembly elections take place in 2017.

India’s democracy exerts constant pressure on political parties to mobilise people for electoral purposes. Electoral mobilisation is often based on evoking emotive issues such as religion, language, caste and parochialism. Development and other rational issues also get transformed into emotional issues because of the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, and the growing expectations of the people.

A study of the history of electoral mobilisation in India would show that religion and caste have always been the most effective issues for mobilising people. Indian political parties have often used the issue of caste to stop religious mobilisation, and the issue of religion to stop caste mobilisation. In the 1990s, both the politics of communal hatred, which emerged around the demolition of the Babri masjid, and caste politics, which emerged after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, were strengthened. Since then, communal politics has been used to neutralise caste politics, and religious politics to defuse caste politics. Caste feelings often remain active even after being submerged in the cauldron of religion, and the rise of middle- and dalit-caste identities work against communal politics. These two are not always opposed to each other, and work together to take a complex form for electoral mobilisation. Thus, both caste consciousness (jati bhav) and communal consciousness (sampradayik bhav) are necessary for political parties, depending on their electoral compulsions. Often caste and communal consciousness join with politics to become aggressive – in its outer and inner forms, in its form and content, and in its process and consequence.

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