Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) is a think tank dedicated to intensive research on economic, social, and political issues.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Perverted communal politics of Kerala
By Dr D Dhanuraj
Another election is around the corner in Kerala and the attempts to appease the voters from every quarter is at its peak. Kerala is known for coalition governments for decades, and it has been one of the mainstays of politicking in the Gods Own Country for all those who want to have a share in the government. The coalition governments across the world are subjected to criticism for its lackadaisical approaches and appeasement of the minority partners in the coalition to survive in the corridors of the power. Detractors hold the accountability of the system in Kerala for the very same reasons.
The entry of another front called NDA in addition to LDF and UDF reaffirmed the conformities with the coalition practices in Kerala. No wonder a national party like BJP tried their best to enter Kerala by abetting the formation of a new party (BDJS) and partnering with them to open their account in the hitherto unconquered frontier. Naturally, the situation has opened up a scenario wherein the results are difficult to predict as of now. Most of the political observers are estimating the shift in the loyalty of a particular caste or community from their erstwhile mentors to the new political combinations. It is not all about BJPs arrival in the state elections that has driven to such an analysis. It has always been the case with the electioneering in Kerala with two significant political groups in Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress (accept the fact that they represent many fringe groups under and within). Every election witnessed the crossing over of these groups from one side to another with the blessings of the community and spiritual leaders and less for the political reasons. From the early days onwards, most of the parties tried to play the communal politics not to mention the formation of Malappuram district. Over the years, there are many instances where the parties choose the candidates based on the community which gives them better chances of winnability even in the adverse conditions.
The debate on whether BJP’s entry to Kerala politics has communalised the secular fabric of the state shall be looked into in this context. There are numerous examples of the perverted behaviour by the political parties in the communal lines. In the context of India, the representation or lack of representation of the communities in the power corridors and avenues of excellence sprout the common thoughts that gets politicised later on. In a democratic country like India, where exists the first past the post scenario the power equations that satisfies the communities and religious group help to retain the vote bank for the political parties. Interestingly, with the coalition politics in practice in Kerala, it helped to form pressure groups and interest group within the political arithmetic of Kerala. Minority politics is very much prevalent in Kerala, and they are represented by different political parties. Most of them have enjoyed their share in the government with the key portfolios in their reach. With the state being a paternal one, the state resources have been dubiously shared by the parties in power to keep the petulant nature of the communal forces at bay. Many of them bargained for their share of the pie. With the emergence of the proactive communal appeasement by the partners in the coalition, the lead parties in both the fronts had to compete to take one step ahead of the other one for not losing to their partners in retaining their vote banks. It essentially resulted in the spread of communalised politics in a very mercurial and hidden manner in Kerala.
The social market of Kerala largely revolves around the service sectors and religious institutions. The share and rights of the communities to avail and establish the opportunities in social welfare sectors like health, education, religious institutions (all of them constitute the social capital) propels everyone in the society to upwardly mobile. This has been very easy as the state has enjoyed the power for arbitrage in many of the sectors as they are designed in a way to help them in such situations. It is exactly what the political parties are trying to leverage upon to retain and propel their votes. They announce the schemes and issue licenses for the communities at the benefit of the votes represented through the different parties. The scenario thrives for the reason that there are political parties which represent particular communities and sects. It is not too late to forget the fifth slot that IUML claimed in the UDF ministry.
Already undertoned communal politics provides ample opportunities for those parties which would take up thematic issues like the environment, Dalits, women security and safety, development, reforms, etc. The present election campaign, in fact, vets the emerging scenario. Secular thoughts would remain in the perverted communal fabric as in the past in the same way undercurrents of communal politics would remain as it is. The only saviour and champion will be those who stand for the thematic issue
*The author is the Chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi. Views expressed by the author is personal.