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

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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.

Third Democratic Upsurge in Uttar Pradesh

The upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh point to an electoral battle between the incumbent Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. With a decline of identity politics in the state, the major political parties are trying to outdo each other in engineering alliances, reaching out to hitherto neglected, marginalised groups, under the garb of inclusive politics. Sensing an opportunity, these backward groups are turning away from their identity-based political anchors and being drawn towards parties that promise political and economic empowerment, signalling the beginning of the “third democratic upsurge” in UP.

Voices of Dissent

Words Matter: Writings against Silence edited and introduced by K Satchidanandan, Gurgaon: Penguin Books India, 2016; pp 260, ₹399.

Milking 1984 as an Election Issue

Punjab is heading for an assembly poll with two new entities in the fray, the Aam Aadmi Party and theAwaaz-e-Punjab front. While the record of the ruling Shiromani Akali DalBharatiya Janata Party combine is shabby, the Congress still faces the uncomfortable task of answering for Operation Blue Star and issues related to the anti-Sikh violence of 1984. Though AAP looks like it has an advantage because it raised the 1984 issue early, it is open which way the votes will swing and 1984 could yet again be a deciding factor.

Underscoring Political-Criminal Nexus

The incident of communal violence in Agarpur, Vaishali, Bihar in November 2015, clearly points to the widespread nexus among hoodlums, politicians with criminal records, and the police in the state. Dismantling this criminal patronage network, which perpetuates communalism and casteism and exacerbates lawlessness, is one of the biggest challenges that confronts the Nitish Kumar regime.

The Gujarat Vote Share Trend Conundrum

The Bharatiya Janata Party may seem invincible in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. However, the staggering numbers in terms of the party's vote share and seats in the state assembly tell a very different tale. Right from the first time it came to power on its own in 1995, till now, this article chronicles the BJP's eventful journey in Gujarat.

Saffron Headway in Kerala

The Bharatiya Janata Party's ability to enlist a band of groupings may not have helped the party as much in the lone seat it won--Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district--from where the party's octogenarian O Rajagopal had been contesting election after election and establishing incremental gains over the years. But it is evident that the party has been able to erode the Congress base and eat into left votes.

Why India Needs JNU

A lifelong associate of Jawaharlal Nehru University reflects on what JNU means to higher education, research, and indeed what it means to the people of India.

Sinners of the Partition

Muslims against Partition: Revisiting the Legacy of Allah Bakhsh and Other Patriotic Muslims by Shamsul Islam; Pharos Media, 2015; pp 216, ₹250.

The Persuasions of Intolerance

As violations of freedom of expression pile up, how productive is it to defend freedom on the ground of tolerance for dissent? Marking out an opinion as dissent paradoxically enables the consolidation of the mainstream consensus. There is a clear shift in the arguments deployed to curtail free expression of ideas from hurt sentiments to truth. Such a shift is taking place in a public culture which requires individuals to have opinions, but is incapable of sustaining critical dialogue.

Tracing the Emergence and Consolidation of Hindutva in Assam

While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political experiment in making inroads into Assam over the past decade has been discussed at length, surprisingly little attention has been devoted towards understanding the contribution of the social and cultural wings of Sangh Parivar in deepening the roots of Hindutva in the state. This analysis becomes important primarily because Assam (like her other north-eastern sister states) does not provide a particularly fertile territory for the growth of Hindutva, an ideology which finds a natural point of entry in the “Hindi heartland” states, with its invocation of Ram Mandir, cow protection or the propagation of Hindi and Sanskrit languages. Given the complexity of the demography of this region that consists of a mélange of races, ethnicities, faiths, customs and cultures, and the multiplicity of issues, it becomes extremely difficult for an ideology riding on religious nationalism to identify common ground that enables it to make a dent in the region. This essay makes an attempt to understand how Hindu nationalism navigated through this difficult terrain to establish itself both institutionally and ideologically at the social and cultural realm in Assam.

From LPG Connections to Use

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, to provide concessional LPG connections, is a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done by 2019 and beyond to ensure homes in India cook using modern fuels. This article explores the issues of providing connections, subsidy provisioning and ensuring sustained use of LPG and other modern fuels, so as to displace solid fuels from Indian kitchens. It also highlights the need for planning for increased demand and addressing institutional gaps to ensure that the benefits of modern fuel adoption, especially health benefits, are realised.

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