This might actually be the first time I am explicitly devoting a blog post to the politics of Telangana. But I have been watching KCR’s politics with some fascination for a while. I know there are a lot of people who think that KCR has created an opening for BJP with his 12% reservation to Muslims. Maybe he has. But, in a larger scheme of things, I think KCR has hit on something big … and BJP should worry. It’s not as straightforward as some people seem to believe.
Hear me out. The politics of BJP has, thus far, benefited tremendously from Hindu resentment against the appeasement of Muslims. The Congress party and its northern clones such as RJD or SP have, generally speaking, walked into the trap. As the BJP kept increasing its influence, these parties walked a very straight and narrow path of brazen Muslim appeasement. You know… just taking things from Hindus and giving it to Muslims. The Congress, for its part, has come out openly in support of anti-nationals, jihadi terrorists, Naxals, even Pakistan…
No wonder they got clobbered in the elections.
But no! KCR’s 12% quota for Muslims is NOT in the same category. It’s just as brazen, but so what? KCR is carrying out a fascinating experiment of “double appeasement“.
What does that mean? Well, he is not just appeasing Muslims, he is appeasing Hindus too! His quota for Muslims was brazen, but then so were his massive gifts to Tirupati temple! He held Hindu yagyas with all the pomp and show of a grand Gupta Emperor.
Is it possible? Politicians of the Hindi belt have so far believed that you can only appease one at a time. Either Hindus or Muslims. KCR is breaking those rules and doing it in style.
And BJP should worry. If KCR’s new formula of “double appeasement” takes off … and I feel it is certainly succeeding in Telangana, BJP will have to go back to the drawing board for a new strategy. This strategy could very well spread among the states on India’s east coast that the BJP is eyeing greedily. And the Hindi belt politicians, including the Congress, might begin to learn.
Honestly, I am fascinated. I really didn’t think it was possible to appease both Hindus and Muslims at the same time. But that’s why politics is politics. And that’s why I have always seen politicians as geniuses… it really takes a lot to get millions of people to worship you… most politicians have a tremendous IQ ( be it even Laloo or Kejriwal ) and I am always in awe of them. Surviving in politics is one of the hardest things a person can do and those who rise to the top like KCR or Modi or Nitish or Mulayam have to be special (dynasts obviously are excluded from this).
Further, I think KCR’s strategy has roots in what Mamata Banerjee has done in Bengal. On social media, we talk a lot about Mamata’s Muslim appeasement. It’s a real thing and the anger against this appeasement in the streets of Bengal is also very real. But let me tell you that it’s not as straightforward as people think. If you really look into the nitty gritties, Mamata Banerjee has done appeasement of several local Hindu sects at the micro level. You would be surprised at how Mamata has pulled out obscure Hindu festivals in Bengal and given them state patronage.
On the one hand, the “Hindi belt influence” is spreading like wildfire in Bengal. The recent observance of Ram Navami by the RSS/BJP was wildly successful. I was surprised at Bengali relatives wishing me a “Happy Shri Ramnavmi”. I nearly burst out laughing. Believe me, they wouldn’t have heard of Ramnavmi until 2-3 years ago. Now they don’t just celebrate it, they also reverentially call it “Shri Ramnavmi” in full. The desire to appear like “real sanskritised Hindus” of Uttar Pradesh is very real. Naturally a good thing for BJP.
But there is a natural cap to the level of support that the BJP is getting. A large number of left leaning Bengali Hindus find a much greater level of comfort with Didi’s local, purely Bengali flavored Hinduism. Add it to the rock solid support of Muslims and she might have an electoral majority that could last a really long time.
Right now, there is a lot of exhileration among the RW over the BJP’s skyrocketing voteshares in Bengal. But remember, this is mostly happening because the BJP started from zero. Actually winning seats in Bengal could be a long way off. The BJP could get stuck at the 35% mark for a long long time. Remember that Congress also polls 40% of the votes in Gujarat. It’s just been sitting there, because the BJP is always 10% ahead of them. A respectable vote share does not guarantee power in the near future, not even a respectable seat tally.
The BJP would be well advised to examine and re-evaluate the strategy on the East Coast. The regional satraps have created a new formula that could stop the BJP right in its tracks. Your move Amit Shah.