But when seasoned journalists and other public opinion-makers behave like a child in coming up with fantastic statistics, he or she needs to be censured
Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India
PATNA — In politics one plus one may not be two. It may even be 11 or zero. Political chemistry is different from arithmetic.
Yet, the mainstream and social media are flooded with half-baked data to justify that Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) has not marred the poll prospects of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Grand Alliance.
Vainly defending AIMIM in social media by general supporters can be pardoned because one is entitled to one’s view and can write anything. But when seasoned journalists and other public opinion-makers behave like a child in coming up with fantastic statistics, he or she needs to be censured.
It would be inappropriate to state that AIMIM should not be blamed for the defeat of any RJD or Congress candidate in any constituency if , for example, the margin of loss was 10,000 while Owaisi’s nominee in the fray received only 2,000 votes. Is politics such an easy game?
If one wants to understand the whole scenario with the help of just figures, then one must go back to the data of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Take the example of the Katihar Lok Sabha seat represented at least five times by senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Tariq Anwar. Katihar district has 44.47 per cent Muslim population. Tariq, who was once again the Congress candidate in 2019, garnered 44.93 per cent votes against Dular Chandra Goswami of Janata Dal (United) getting 50.05 per cent. The population of Hindus in the district is 54.85 per cent.
As the other candidates in the fray bagged negligible votes, no mention is being made about them here.
A close look at these figures would suggest that Tariq received exactly the same percentage of votes as the population of Muslims. It means that the election was fought in a totally polarised atmosphere though Tariq had no such record of communal politics and was equally liked or disliked by both Hindu and Muslim voters. He could not get many Hindu votes this time simply because he was the Congress candidate.
But is it true that Hindus had not voted for the Congress or its allies in 2019? Can this be believed? But the data at least suggests so.
Now come over to the two Lok Sabha constituencies with a much smaller population of Muslims, even less than 10 per cent–Patna Saheb and Patliputra.
While Shatrughan Sinha of the Congress got 32.87 per cent votes in Patna Saheb, Misa Bharati of RJD got about 43.63 per cent votes. The former lost to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the latter was defeated by a relatively small margin by Ram Kripal Yadav–both of the BJP.
So, if the Congress and RJD candidates could get 23-24 per cent and 33-34 per cent Hindu votes (9-10 per cent Muslim votes deducted from the figures) why cannot Tariq get Hindu votes in Katihar? Here, instead of arithmetic, political chemistry plays its part.
Those championing the cause of Owaisi should solve this mystery. If they cannot, they should coolly try to understand the recent developments, especially after the advent of AIMIM in the region. No doubt, the BJP has been playing the ‘Bangladeshi infiltrators’ card for the last several decades.
Yet, there was social and communal harmony in the region. In the past, even the Muslim-dominated Kishanganj used to elect Hindus as MP and MLA–though in 1980s this phenomenon started changing and even the BJP pitted Syed Shahnawaz Husain as its candidate. Even in post-1992 years, at the grassroots level, the communal divide was not much visible in most parts of Seemanchal, which has a sizeable population of trading communities, too.
However, after the almost simultaneous rise of the BJP and AIMIM, the situation started changing. The oratory from both sides set in the process of polarisation and counter-polarisation, especially at the time of elections.
So, in the pockets where the Hindu population is not very large or Hindus are in minority, the bogey of ‘infiltrators’ and other such slogans does work on the eve of election.
The absence of any strong secular force to check this phenomenon and the advent of Owaisi further vitiated the atmosphere. So a large number of Hindu voters, which used to be neutral till a few days before the polling day, would, instead of voting for any Congress and RJD candidate, end up exercising the adult franchise in favour of BJP or its partner.
One cannot provide any figure as to how many floating votes this process of polarisation and counter-polarisation pushes to the NDA fold.
The death of Taslimuddin and even Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi, who used to enjoy the support cutting across the caste and community lines, hastened this process. Today, men like Owaisi brothers, who have no knowledge whatsoever of the region and who have their own agenda, are (mis)leading the people for their own ends.
One can blame BJP for the polarisation, but who will examine as to how many otherwise indifferent Hindu votes Owaisi has pushed into the NDA kitty. Can the apologists for AIMIM come up with any such figures as this phenomenon has played a very significant role in increasing the voting percentage of BJP and its allies not in any one or two constituencies but in the entire Seemanchal, where Muslims have a sizeable population?