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

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Myth of the ‘Muslim Vote Bank’

Either Many Vote Banks Exist, or Just None

Siyasi Muslims: A Story of Political Islams in India by Hilal Ahmed, New Delhi: Penguin Viking, 2019; pp xxxi + 240, 599.


As a community, the Muslims of India are as wise or naïve as any other community. They too, like their Hindu, Christian or Sikh counterparts, vote semi-collectively depending upon local or national political considerations. Even the so-called collectivistic Dalits or Other Backward Classes (OBCs)seldom vote as unified groups (Gupta 2019). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not unaware of this Muslim reality, and yet, for political reasons, they propagate the theory that Muslims vote as one national block. Their grudge is that the Congress has traditionally pocketed this huge vote collective. Their strategy, therefore, is two-pronged: one, to buttress their Hindu constituency by projecting Muslims as threats to the Hindus, and two, to lure the Muslims away from the Congress by promi­sing them a better deal. But, does the latter convince the Muslims? Seeing what is happening around, they suffer from a sense of hopelessness. This gloom is what the author, who is an associate professor at Delhi’s Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, is trying to unravel.

The Pakistani bureaucrat turned socio­logist Akbar Ahmed argued in his bookIslam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World (2003) that 9/11 was a catalyst in creating this siege mentality among Muslims globally. As a Pakistani–American, he saw a tide of Islamophobia gripping the nation. Many Muslim charities were closed,hijab-wearing women were humiliated, the Fox TV commentators likened the Quran with Hitler’sMein Kampf, and the editor of theNational Review, Richard Lowry, went to the extent of demanding the “final solution” by nuking Mecca (Ahmed 2003: 36–37, 47).

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2019
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