16/04/09

what's a vote bank?

The word “party” has become a Kannada word. Every administrator and politician speaks of “party politics” in villages, and even villagers are often heard saying, “There is too much ‘party’ in such and such a village”. The coming of elections gives fresh opportunities for the crystallization of parties around patrons. Each patron may be said to have a “vote bank” which he can place at the disposal of a provincial or national party for a consideration which is not mentioned but implied. The secret ballot helps to preserve the marginal affiliation of the marginal clients.
ramchandra guha quoting from 'The Social System of a Mysore Village' by M.N.Srinivas to explain how the term 'vote bank' was born. in the next paragraph he asks- how does this description hold up 50 years later?
We still use the term coined by Srinivas; however, we mostly mean it now to capture a solidarity that is horizontal rather than vertical. “Vote bank” is not what a single patron commands; rather it denotes a collective political preference exercised by a particular interest group. In India, this interest is defined principally by primordial identity — of caste or religion or language.
check how the definition of the term has been twisted: 50 years ago, going by srinivas' and his effusive admirer guha's formulation, dalits and other lower castes and the minorities were the vote banks. 50 years later, dalits and other lower castes and minorities are still the vote banks. the definition has changed, but it still fits the same social groups. the definition has been changed to still fit the same social groups?

who actually deserves this gaali (because that's what it is primarily, because that's the intention behind the usage of the term, mostly): vote banks in india? who are the actual vote banks in india, people who vote along strictly sectarian lines (if we go by the first definition), for sectarian interests (going by the second definition)? i won't bore with you a lot of facts and figures- i'll refer only to the bsp experience in uttar pradesh. in uttar pradesh, brahmins and other upper castes didn't vote for the bsp until the bsp started offering them tickets- now all brahmin and other upper caste voters of the bsp vote for its brahmin candidates, but very few of them vote for the party's dalit/obc/muslim candidates. they vote along strictly sectarian lines. and even now they'd vote for the bsp only as long as it serves their interests- like in this elections, brahmins were given 25% of the tickets. they vote for their own sectarian interests.

if the dalits or lower castes of india voted along sectarian lines or for sectarian interests- would the majority of legislators in elected houses across states still be from the upper castes?

1 comment:

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