[Marxism] Mumbai bombings

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Wed Jul 12 15:09:37 MDT 2006

On 7/12/06, Marla Vijaya kumar <marlavk at yahoo.com> wrote:
>   I wish we Indians will will win in the end against communal hatred.
>   Vijaya Kumar Marla

A while ago, I heard of a shift in Muslim votes -- from the Congress
to the Left.  I just found an article about it:

<blockquote>June 2006
Tectonic shift in the Muslim vote

The recently-concluded assembly elections show that the Congress is
rapidly losing its traditional constituency

Naveen Surabaneni Delhi

The Congress has lost a considerable section of its traditional
constituency, a fact clearly brought out by the recentlyconcluded
assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Pondichery, Tamil Nadu and West
Bengal. The ramifications extend to the national canvas. The shift in
Muslim community's voting preference indicates a reversal of trend
since the Lok Sabha 2004, where post-poll investigations indicated
that the Congress Party's support among the Muslim community had
increased in the 2004 after a long gap since the 1992 Babri Masjid
demolition. What has brought about this shift?

It is first necessary to understand and map the shift in the Muslim
vote. Two states, Assam with 30 per cent and Kerala with 25 per cent
Muslim population present an excellent opportunity to understand the
extent of shift in Muslim vote. In Assam, six districts – Dhubri,
Goalpara, Barpeta, Nagaon, Karimganj and Hailaknadi – have more than
50 per cent Muslim population. These districts account for 38 of the
total 126 assembly constituencies in the state. In addition four other
districts have sizable Muslim population ranging from 35 – 45 per
cent. A historic analysis of performance of the Congress Party in
Assam shows that the party did well in these areas. That is how
Congress Party in Assam is said to be identified more as party for
"Ali" (Muslim) and "Coolie" (tea garden workers). Similarly in Kerala,
Malapuram has 69 per cent Muslim population and some districts like
Kozhikode, Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad and Pallakad, the Muslim
population is in the range of 27–35 percent. The analysis decline in
the vote share in these constituencies is much more than the overall
decline in the vote share across the state. In Assam the decline in
the vote share is more or less in line with the state average because
of the sprinkling of Muslim voters across the districts. In only 8 of
23 districts, the Muslim vote is below the 10 percentage point. In
Assam, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) which is collection of
small Muslim organisations has won 10 seats. In Kerala, the UDF
alliance partner Indian United Muslim League (IUML) had won only 7
seats down from 16 seats in 2002. This is for the first time the IUML
has less than 10 seats in the assembly. Left parties managed to win
some of the stronghold of IUML which the party never lost since 1980s
like Majeswar, Koduvally, Tirur,Kuttipuram and Mannarkkad. The
defining political message in the verdict is that the Muslim community
in the Malabar region has for the first time changed its traditional
stand of voting for the Indian Union Muslim League.

The shift in the Muslim vote from the Congress Party could be due to
multiple reasons. Let us look at Assam first. In Assam one of the
reasons for the shift in the Muslim vote is due to Supreme Court
striking down the Illegal Immigrants Detection Tribunal Act (IMDT).
The Supreme Court had observed that the Act was discriminatory and
directed the Centre to treat the influx of Bangladeshi as an "act of
aggression". This provided the political space for the small Muslim
based organisations to get together in a political formation under the
banner of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF). In Kerala and West
Bengal there was no such major emotive issue. So what then explains
the shift in Muslim vote in Kerala and West Bengal? The Communist
Party of India (Marxist), CPI-M in Kerala and West Bengal had made the
foreign policy of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government at the Centre especially the decision to vote against Iran
in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the pro-US
foreign policy, a core theme in their campaign. The US President
George Bush's visit to India presented an excellent opportunity for
the Left parties to channelise Muslim community anger against his
policies and strike an emotion chord. This appears to have clearly
helped the Left to gain the support of the community. Clearly the
extra-territorial issue had considerable influence on the voting
preference of the Muslim voters. Is the Muslim community in the
country more concerned about the extraterritorial issues rather than
their socio-economic condition?

In the past one of the reasons offered for the Muslim's support to the
Congress Party was the threat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in power at the Centre.
With NDA no longer in power at the Centre, BJP hardly a strong
contender in the states which went to the polls and the decline in the
popular perception about the BJP due to frequent internal problems and
branching out of leaders like Uma Bharti, the Muslim community felt
assured enough to look for option outside the BJP and the Congress

This shift in Muslim vote could have major political impact across the
country. The Congress Party's attempt to revive itself in politically
crucial states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar could receive a
setback. Muslims constitute 18.5 per cent of total population in UP
and 16.53 in Bihar. Unless the Muslim community solidly backs the
Congress Party its chances of revival in UP and Bihar look bleak.
Further, the success of AUDF could result in similar experiments in
other states. Already in Uttar Pradesh there are moves to form a
Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) to consolidate the Muslim vote. This
would in turn put pressure on the Muslim leaders who are presently in
the mainstream parties to switch over to these parties. The
conservative Muslim leaders in mainstream parties would then get
marginalised. Moreover, the shift in Muslim vote away from the
Congress Party would benefit the smaller state parties which could in
turn accelerate the possibility of putting together a Third Front.
Additionally, with emergence of parties like AUDF in Assam and PDF in
Uttar Pradesh there is possibility of backlash among the majority
community which could aid the revival of BJP. Finally this could also
result some unease within the Congress Party. The impression that
Manmohan Singh is more a manager rather a political prime minister
could gain further ground.

Overall it would be interesting to watch as to how the Congress Party
responds to this new unfolding scenario especially with Uttar Pradesh
scheduled to go to polls in early 2007.

Writer is Director, Centre for Media Studies, Delhi


It seems to me that there is a good foundation among Muslims in India
on which struggles against communalism can be built.

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