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Impact of religion as a factor in the Lok Sabha Polls 2024

When almost all of the instrumental political parties make allegations against each other for cashing in on religion, it’s a sign that it features heavily in politics — regardless of the religion, regardless of the party. 

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 13, 2024, 06:53 AM - 5 mins read

When almost all of the instrumental political parties make allegations against each other for cashing in on religion, it’s a sign that it features heavily in politics — regardless of the religion, regardless of the party. 

Impact of religion as a factor in the Lok Sabha Polls 2024


Be it seeking votes, addressing allegations or making counter-allegations, religion has been a popular rhetoric in the current election season 

 

When almost all of the instrumental political parties make allegations against each other for cashing in on religion, it’s a sign that it features heavily in politics — regardless of the religion, regardless of the party. 

 

In March, the BJP lodged a complaint with the EC against Rahul Gandhi for hurting the sentiments of Hindus through his “fight against Shakti” remark.

“Rahul Gandhi’s comments had a misogynistic tone,” said the BJP adding that the “obnoxious statement had hurt the sentiments of Hindus.”

 

Whether religious sentiments are hurt or appeased, invariably religion plays out in public consciousness and voter sentiment. 

 

Like it seems to have this year both during the peak poll campaigning and pre-poll planning. Last month, right before Kerala went to vote on April 26, several churches in Kerala were reportedly screening the film The Kerala Story.

 

A controversial film from 2023, the film showed how women from Kerala were converted and then made to join the Islamic terror outfit IS.

The screening of the film was seen by many as an attempt to consolidate Christian votes by stoking the community’s sentiments right before the state went to polls. 

 

While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the screenings and alleged that they were done to garner votes, the BJP denied any role in the screenings. Christians form 18% of Kerala’s population and hence have the power to tip the election results in any direction. 

 

Campaigning remains an integral part of any electoral tool as do the meets and greets, visits to the community centres, associations, professional clubs etc, but a visit to a place of worship is a clear sign of appeasement.

In April, when Congress candidate Imran Masoord visited a Tripur Bala Sundari Devi Mandir to offer his respects, the Bajrang Dal outfit questioned how could a non-Hindu enter the Siddh Peeth. Masoor, to secure a victory at the Saharanpur Lok Sabha seat chanted the slogan “Ram Dhun” as the candidate representing Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance.

He has not been the only one, visits to local places of worship are almost mandatory for any candidate looking to sway voters.

The instances where religion was used either in seeking votes addressing allegations or making counter-allegations have been a pan-India phenomenon.

During the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, the state’s chief electoral officer said that a case had been registered against BJP’s incumbent MP and candidate for Bangalore south Tejasvi Surya.

The case pertained to a video on X, which Surya had posted, soliciting votes on the grounds of religion, in violation of the election code of conduct. 

 

The allegations don’t stay restricted to insignificant constituencies and first-time politicians or candidates. Earlier this month, while slamming the Congress party for being anti-Hindu, PM Modi, alleged that the grand old party was contemplating religion-based reservations.

While addressing an election rally at Narayanpet in Telangana, Modi went on to say that Congress did not care about Hindus or the country and it was against Hindus and wanted to make Hindus second-class citizens.

He also said that the Congress divides the country in the name of religion and caste. The very allegation made by Congress against BJP at different points in time. The list of similar instances and statements is not exhaustive.

The role of religion and identity politics in India has been the subject of several studies. Expecting any kind of homogeneity out of an assorted 1.4 billion people is a futile task. The same 1.4 billion citizens revere deities as diverse as the nation’s landscape. 

 

According to the Pew Research Center’s largest study of India exploring the intersection of religion and identity politics, a staggeringly great majority of the nation's adults (84%) regard religion as “very important” in their lives.

The study, released in June 2021, titled Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation interviewed nearly 30,000 adults for the same. As per the observations thrown by the study, nearly 9 out of 10 said that they borrow from one another’s beliefs.

More than 3 in 4 Muslims subscribe to the Hindu concept of karma, and nearly 1 in 5 Jains and Sikhs celebrate Christmas, among several other observations.

The union of religion and politics is here to stay; now only the confluence of religions needs to be reflected in politics and not segregation. 

Related Tags:#Rahul Gandhi#BJP
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