Posts Tagged ‘Vote-bank Politics’

In the times of recession, when most of the organizations suffered, banks were also one of them. But one bank that is always cared for and is on the upward slide in India, is the Vote Bank.

Vote Bank is a loyal group of voters who belong to a single community. The quality of such voters is that they always support one particular candidate or a party in the democratic elections. This practice is more common in India due to the existence of caste-based social structure that constrains the individual choice while voting. Often, the votes are driven by the expectation of real or imagined benefits from the political formations. This is ultimately considered harmful for a democracy.

The practice of creating and maintaining such Vote banks is called Vote Bank Politics. This term has no actual, universal definition and is exclusively Indian. However, an understanding of the phrase can be articulated – Vote Bank Politics is a political strategy in which a politician or a party concentrates on the well-being of just one particular group of people to win the elections and doesn’t really focus on other groups, or the country/society as a whole.


The term Vote Bank was first coined by the Indian sociologist MN Srinivas, in his 1955 paper entitled ‘The Social System of a Mysore Village’. The term talked about the political influence exerted by a patron over a client. The phrase was re-used by FG Bailey, an anthropology professor at the University of California, in 1959, in a book entitled ‘Politics and Social Change’. It referred to the caste based politics and electoral influences.

Since then, the term has been used popularly throughout Asian countries and soon expanded to describe Vote Bank Politics based on other community characteristics as well, like religion and language.

Apart from the diversity in social structure in India, one more reason exists why Vote Bank Politics here is rampant. Any election in which people cast their votes, the party or candidate with the maximum votes is the winner. In India, there are several parties and candidates, each representing a group. So among them, whoever gets the maximum votes win. These ‘maximum votes’ may even be as less as 10%. So if the electorate is as diverse as it is in India, all one needs to ensure is to keep one’s ‘Vote Bank’ happy. And be assured of an election win!

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The debate about the meanings of secularism and pseudo secularism are enduring in India. But for a moment, if we pause and have a look, Pseudo Secularism is appeasement of some particular opinion or a group for immediate social and political gains. If we go to a very crude meaning, Pseudo means false. And Secularism means a concept wherein the Government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs. Every person has a right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of his/her choice.

Pseudo Secularism is said to be a hall mark of the internal politics of India. It is a position of practicing implied non-secular trends in the face of a pledged secularism. The term is used by groups who perceive a double standard revealed within the established secular governing policy towards culturally different groups. Pseudo secularism started from the Khilafat Movement in 1917. It is believed that Mahatma Gandhi first used this concept when Muslims were fighting against the British for their war against Turkey. But during the recent times, the term has gained greater practitioners and admirers.

Today, this term is often used and misused in murky politics to suit the interests of the main players. In India, the Left and the Centrist parties call themselves as ‘Guardians of Secularism’ and hence the Right wing parties are ‘Communal.’ While the Rightists believe their rivals are ‘Pseudo Secular’ and believe in the ‘Anti-Hindu’ ideology.

One common trait of the debate between secularism and pseudo secularism is that they both are for vote-bank politics. In the rush to earn votes and power, the politicians conveniently shift their stands, even if that means hurting the religious sentiments of one religious group or the other. Clarity, both in thought and action is inevitable to save the unity and integrity of our nation.

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