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Idea of India is still plural and diverse

Idea of India is still plural and diverse

The survey was held to provide a guide to voter behaviour, but it is anybody’s guess whether the responses of about 10,000 persons would truly reflect the thinking and voting preferences of about one billion voters.

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Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 22:51 IST
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 22:51 IST
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The findings of the CSDS-Lokniti survey of the social, political, and electoral views of the voters assume significance, given the impending Lok Sabha elections.

The survey was held to provide a guide to voter behaviour, but it is anybody’s guess whether the responses of about 10,000 persons would truly reflect the thinking and voting preferences of about one billion voters. Some of the views that emerged from the survey need to be seen outside of the electoral context in which they were expressed.

The survey sought to map electoral behaviour directly with questions about voting intentions, and indirectly from factors that might influence voting, like religion and economic and social situations. The picture that emerges from it has a value beyond politics and elections. 

Seventy-nine per cent of the respondents said they believed that “India belongs to all religions equally, not just Hindus”. Only 11 per cent said they believed that “India belongs only to Hindus”, and about eight in every 10 Hindus spoke in favour of religious pluralism.

That is an assertion of the diversity of India and an indication that the attempts at polarisation made by political and other organisations have not worked well with the people. It is also an affirmation of the idea of tolerance that is at the core of the Indian view of life through the ages. When an overwhelming majority rejects the idea that India belongs only to Hindus, it is a rejection of politics based on religion. 

At the same time, it must be noted that about 40 per cent of the voters supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the main party claiming to represent the Hindu cause.

That shows there is a dissociation between the preponderant worldview of the people and their voting behaviour. Most of those who would vote for the BJP do not support the Hindutva cause that it champions, and so it would seem the vote for the party is mainly driven by other considerations, such as the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the development agenda he offers.

This is also borne out by the finding that the voters considered livelihood issues such as jobs and prices more important than others. One important message from the survey is that a vote for the BJP is not a vote for Hindutva or a Hindu India.

A plural and diverse India that belongs to everyone is the idea of India that most people have about the country. Another message is that an appeal to religious and communal sentiment will only have limited appeal, though that is the running theme of the loudest campaign now.

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