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Growing Popularism Concerning The Indian Federalism

When the constitution of India was designed its makers made it clear that the state has no religion. This was done to ensure that the citizens of the country make informed choices and do not vote based on caste, creed, gender, class, religion, etc. Further, the constitution makers have emphasized the importance of equality through various rights and statutes.

Our country celebrates unity in diversity: We are home to various languages, cultures, and traditions, religions, and the very nature of the preamble is secular and socialistic democracy. But even though we are the largest democracy in the world with a unique federal and economic system we still face problems like unemployment, poverty, poor health facilities, illiteracy, female foeticide, child marriage, etc.

While these are issues that need to be addressed and debated about in the parliament and media houses, what we usually hear about is religion, class, caste, and gender politics. If not feminism then Hindu phobia has to be the most debated topic of the year. It is unfortunate that when we as a nation were fighting a deadly pandemic, the media was more interested in talking about a murder mystery of a famous actor, Bollywood drama, "Yogi Ne Udaye Dangiyon Ke Hosh" and so on.

Today, we have come to a position where free journalism has become a myth and people are so strongly connected with their political opinions that the line between right and wrong is blurring day by day. The political scenario of this nation is still pondering on the ideals of divide and rule and in the last few decades, this has been hitting different parts of the communities differently.

The question which then needs to be asked is where are we going wrong and is this something which has been established by the present governments or was it always prevalent in this nation? Before we move forward and try to deliberate on these questions it is important to understand that even though India is a democracy, the choices which are made while selecting the representatives are unfortunately still based on caste, class, and religion. A famous political philosopher rightly pointed out, that politics is driven by ideologies and the political leaders base their propaganda around the hottest topic of their times or in other words "Mudda Wahi Jo Bikta Hai".

Popularism refers to the political philosophy or ideology through which a particular sect or community is targeted mainly for certain ulterior motives. India is a largely populated nation and the people of this nation as discussed above have different ideologies and interests, therefore, the political parties usually choose a particular group as their target voters and form a manifesto through which such a group can be influenced.

History Of Popularism In India

Popularism is usually seen as a recent trend in Indian politics. However, a close analysis of the History of Indian politics reflects that popularism has been prevalent in this nation since independence. In the early days, the ruling government vouched for the interests of the minorities and encouraged the majority community to be tolerant and acceptive of the other communities.

The contention of Nehru was to unite the nation in this way; however, it is believed that he paved the way for other leaders to use this as an agenda to fight for votes and run-in elections. When we got independent the nation was home to illiterate people suffering from the wounds of partition and struggling for the necessities of life.

This is the reason why politics was not a matter of concern for them and when they had to vote, Jawaharlal Nehru was their choice because he was the only entity people had seen and could relate with, but the real politics began after Nehru when his successors took the throne and misused the very principles of the constitution to their advantage. Indira Gandhi used the system of divide and rule by constantly reaching out for socialistic models hence gaining the support of the poor and downtrodden people of the nation. Her every policy was surrounded by socialism and then secularism. She vouched for the poor and the minority of this nation.

However, estimates tell us that the most affected groups during the emergency were the pauper of the nation. Charan Singh, and Moraji Desai among others recognized themselves as the Janta party and chose the route of class-based politics. They brought permanent reservations in the education sector and even though they did face a huge amount of criticism and protests, the reservation still stands. Thus, we understand that leaders from different decades choose different ways of attaining a potentially voting bank and popularism has continued for years in this nation.

Popularism And Religion

India faced partition based on religion and this is probably why religion has been a yardstick in the hands of the politicians. There has never been a party in India that did not misuse the religious sentiments of the citizens of this nation for their benefit. In recent times, we see the prominence of the religiously inspired nationalist movement. The Modi regime is credited to spread the propaganda of religious divisions.

From the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute to the Mathura case, we see a continuous thread of people using the judiciary for satisfying their religious sentiments. The media houses of this country today are divided between the left and the right ideologies, and free journalism is becoming a myth in the nation. All of this is the result of propaganda that the ruling government and the opposition have adopted in the course of the last few decades.

The opposing leaders and the critics emphasize the fact that the Modi regime is a majoritarian system and is against the minorities of the nation, especially Muslims on the other hand the BJP and the RSS groups are trying their best to prove that in the name of secularism the congress and other governments have clothed their ulterior interests of making India a Muslim nation.

They want the Hindus to believe that they are threatened by the Muslims and the opposing parties want the Muslims to believe that the Hindus are one day going to kill them. However, the recent events of the Gyanvapi mosque, The Nupur Sharma case which lead to the "Sar Tan Se Juda" protests across the country is not an example of the success of the propaganda of the leaders but tells us how divided we are, we always were. In reality, the history between Hindus and Muslims has been bitter, the sultanates forced the Hindus to convert and various Hindu temples were destroyed by the Muslim rulers in the past and vice versa.

In politics, this religious divide has always been desired by all the leaders who have ever got some power and this is an issue whose solution is not the change of the political systems but the social structure. It is indeed a matter of shame if we today with educated masses can go to kill another human just based on their comments on your religion. These are signs of intolerance and divisions which are not new to us but have been deeply rooted among all of us. Communal violence at the end of the day is desired by all the leaders but is not beneficial for the local masses. Similarly, when we talk about the issue of Khalistan it is important to realize that it is more of an issue created than something which already exists.

Popularism And Caste

The reservation system is the most debated topic nowadays, however, it is also important to understand the motive behind bringing reservations into politics. When Dr. BR Ambedkar emphasized reservations, he wanted to uplift the vulnerable sections of society. However, it is evident that regime after regime reservation has been used in ways it suits the interests of the leaders.

It is ironic how those who were against the reservation system never really tried to alter it even when they were in power. Caste is a social evil still prevalent in certain sections of our society and it is indeed sad that instead of working to get rid of this problem the politicians more than often are seen taking advantage of this situation.

Even today, politics in Bihar, Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, Punjab, and various other regions are based on class. The major problem with class-based politics is that leaders in reality use the sentiments of various castes to gain votes and then once in power, they are hardly seen talking about the interests of the backward communities. Most of the time, the leaders themselves practice discriminative practices against certain castes and their speeches have no real face family.

In the end, when politics is based on class, caste, or religion, it unfortunately becomes the breeding ground for such issues rather than solving these problems and therefore in such instances politics is only left in the hand of those in power to play in whichever way they want to.

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