Strong opposition, assertive Muslim vote bank signal potential shift in Indian politics

Strong opposition, assertive Muslim vote bank signal potential shift in Indian politics

BJP may need to moderate its approach

ISLAMABAD, JUN 15 /DNA/ – The BJP’s dominance in the Indian political landscape is poised to decline with the rise of a strong opposition in the parliament and the assertive stance of a consolidated Muslim electorate against the Hindu exclusionist parties. This sets the stage for a significant shift, potentially necessitating a more moderate approach from the BJP to adapt to the evolving political environment.

These views were expressed by speakers at a session titled “Indian 18th Lok Sabha Elections: Results and Realities” organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. The session was chaired by Khalid Rahman, chairman IPS, and moderated by Syed Nadeem Farhat, senior research fellow at IPS. The speakers included Ambassador (r) Syed Abrar Hussain, Iftikhar Gillani, Ankara-based senior Kashmiri journalist, Brig. (r) Said Nazir, defense and security analyst, Farzana Yaqoob, former AJK minister and secretary IPS Working Group on Kashmir, and Usama Hameed, an IPS associate.

Highlighting a significant shift in the Indian electorate’s behavior, Iftikhar Gillani noted that voters prioritized local candidate performance over Modi’s popularity. He noted the BJP’s slogan “Abki Baar 400 Paar” lacked empirical support while it was aimed at securing a parliamentary majority to amend the Indian Constitution. This agenda has raised concerns among minorities and Dalits about losing their special rights, and worked in favor of the Indian National Congress in augmenting the anti-BJP sentiment.

Gillani also emphasized the growing assertiveness among Muslims reacting to their systematic marginalization and victimization, which underscored their political maturity under the factor of fear generated during a decade-long BJP rule in the center. He noted the significant development of common strategies of the marginalized communities which garnered rare solidarity between Dalits, Muslims, and Other Backward Classes, hinting at new dynamics and undercurrents in the Indian society.
Ambassador Abrar noted that the BJP alliance’s extremist stance could be mitigated if the Congress alliance delivers a strong performance, potentially reducing the prevalence of hate-based politics.

Talking about the global perception of India’s policies and the reality of its internal politics, Usama Hameed remarked that despite efforts to downplay Pakistan’s relevance, BJP leaders frequently mentioned Pakistan in their speeches. He pointed out that the consolidated vote banks and strategic voting behaviors of Muslims have significantly impacted the election results, even though the number of Muslim candidates had decreased.

In this regard, Said Nazir stressed the need to analyze the impact of BJP’s policies on religious minorities over the past decade. He pondered whether Prime Minister Modi would pursue damage control or escalate these issues in the next five years.
He also emphasized the importance of scrutinizing the reactions of the RSS and other right-wing factions. He speculated that if Pakistan followed an appeasement policy against the arrogant Indian behavior, it might embolden India to continue blaming and stigmatizing Pakistan as a weaker state. Referring to the statements of Indian external affairs minister Jaishankar, in which he again attributed terrorism to Pakistan, the analyst advised the Pakistani government and politicians to follow calculated policies regarding the Eastern neighbor.

In his concluding remarks, Khalid Rahman emphasized that the stability and longevity of the BJP-led alliance is critically dependent on intra-party and inter-party interactions. He said given the self-centered political and administrative characteristics of the Indian prime minister, managing a coalition government would be particularly challenging for him. He also highlighted the importance of analyzing societal transformations in India to understand election outcomes. He pointed out that vulnerable groups might continue to face challenges due to the mindset of the society that has formed over the BJP’s last two tenures.