Narendra Modi and identity politics

Your editorial (Modi wins the struggle for his nation’s soul, but poses a threat to its democracy, 24 May) accuses Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party of supporting communalism and sectarianism. In fact the BJP is the only party in India trying to fight them. Take, for example, identity politics – the root cause of sectarianism and communalism in India. It is not uncommon for political parties to use religion or caste as a base to consolidate and stabilise their power among voters, thereby diverting their attention from the real issues of livelihood, economy and good governance.

Although the policy of dividing voters on sectarian lines was introduced by the British, it has continued unabated after independence, seemingly to protect religious minorities from domination, exploitation and suppression by the majority. But in reality this has ended up pitting Hindus against Muslims, Sikhs against Hindus, Brahmins against non-Brahmins, low caste against high caste, and so on.

In 2014, the BJP was the first political party in India to challenge the use of identity politics in electoral campaigns. It did so by replacing such politics, which sought to treat minorities as a homogeneous vote bank to be mobilised for electoral purposes, by politics of “collective efforts, inclusive growth” (sab ka saath, sab ka vikas), a policy framework designed to treat voters as individuals rather than members of a particular religious or caste group.
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex

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